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Researchers challenge study that resveratrol lessens exercise benefits for the heart

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Healthy food

Earlier this year EmaxHealth and hundreds other media outlets published results of findings that the ingredient in red wine, resveratrol, might undo or lessen exercise benefits in older adults. But now two independent researchers say no such conclusion could be drawn from the study.

The original study, published July, 2013 in the Journal of Physiology and conducted by the University of Copenhagen suggested resveratrol supplements could increase the risk of heart disease.

On October 15, 2013, James M. Smoliga, an Associate Professor with High Point University. and Otis L. Blanchard, a private researcher and President and CTO of Wilmore Labs LLC wrote an editorial; highlighting flaws of the study.

Blanchard and Smoliga reviewed the study, saying the conclusions were “incorrect”.

In a press release, Blanchard writes: “It’s a great example of how the scientific process continues after a study is published, and it’s a great thing when more researchers get to see a study.”

The original study authors stated: “Resveratrol supplementation was found to reduce the positive effect of exercise training on blood pressure, blood cholesterol and maximal oxygen uptake and did not affect the retardation of atherosclerosis,” in addition to claiming to be the first study to demonstrate negative cardiovascular benefits of the antioxidant.

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Past studies have shown resveratrol has benefits for diabetes and heart health.

After reviewing the study Blanchard and Smoliga determined the difference between the two groups used in the Copenhagen study that were given either resveratrol supplements or placebo were too small to be significant, making the study authors conclusion incorrect.

“Importantly, there were no post-training differences between groups for most of these, and it is not appropriate to interpret such results as statistical differences between groups, “the researchers wrote.

Of the two tests that were performed, one was positive and one was negative, leading Blanchard to say the published finding was the result of “freshman statistics”.

Smoliga points out that atherosclerosis is measured with specific procedures that were not performed in the study, meaning no conclusions could be drawn. The study gained wide attention because of the popularity of resveratrol. Based on a new review of the findings, resveratrol does not appear to pose any risks for heart health.


James M. Smoliga and Otis L. Blanchard.
“Recent data do not provide evidence that resveratrol causes ‘mainly negative’ or ‘adverse’ effects on exercise training in humans.”
JPHYSIOL, 2013/262956


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I find it interesting that any negative resveratrol study seems to be coming from labs supported by Novo Nordisk - the Danish Type II Diabetes Big Pharma co. They have A LOT to loose if resveratrol use becomes common in Type II diabetics. This study is no different.
At the recent Resveratrol Conference in Tokyo I listened to a presentation by a professor from the same Copenhagen institution that published the outlier studies on Type 2 Diabetes in which a null result was obtained, which conflicted with the 2005 Albert Einstein Study using Transmax Resveratrol, and two very recent studies done at separate medical schools using Transmax and Bioforte Resveratrol in which blood glucose was beneficially attenuated as was blood pressure and body weight, and significant improvements in HDL and LDL cholesterol were observed. Both studies were done on much larger subject groups than that of the Copenhagen study, and undertaken for a longer period of time. The study presented at the Tokyo conference investigated the effect of resveratrol on inflammatory markers. Again a mixed result was obtained, when previous studies have unanimously shown Resveratrol to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent.
Terry - Thanks for your comment. Very interesting indeed.
I also challenged this study in a comment published in Nutraingredients, and discussed my opinions regarding obvious flaws in the researchers' protocol, subject selection and data analysis. I applaud James and Otis in their dedication and prowess in identifying and pointing out the serious defects inherent in the latest Copenhagen study.
Thanks for your input James. I'm glad the researchers alerted us here also.
It will be interesting to see how many of the sites that published articles promoting the results of the Copenhagen study now publish the letter by James and Otis, which as accepted by the same journal.
I know - I haven't seen any yet. Have you James? Are you James Betz from Biotivia? :)
I have not seen any yet. We may do a press release this coming week, for whatever good that may do.
Hi Kathleen, Yes, I am that James.
Oh, thank you James for clarifying. I have seen your interviews! Keep us posted. Perhaps we can collaborate and I can give our readers an update. :)
Thanks Kathleen. We are presently engaged in quite a few collaborations on human clinical trials with med schools in the US, Europe, Canada, and the ME. We should discuss the different applications that are being investigated. None of these are in the public domain yet. Obviously, we must respect the confidentiality agreements we have with these researchers, notwithstanding this there is much we can talk about.
Absolutely!. As it rolls out we would love to share. Thank you so much James.
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