Red, red wine

We’ve been told for years that red wine – actually, the compound in red wine called resveratrol – may help reduce inflammation in our bodies because it contains a potentially anti-inflammatory compound called resveratrol. That was welcome news to a wine fan like me – but also kind of confusing, in that consuming alcohol is known to promote inflammation. As you probably know, inflammation plays a role in all kinds of diseases, including cancer and multiple sclerosis.
 
Science often demonstrates that things aren’t as clear-cut as we’d like. And that’s as it should be: Scientific research is designed to be incremental, each study adding a new bit of information to the whole body of knowledge, and contradictions often help point the way to discovery.
 
A recently published study is a good example. Research conducted at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana and published in The American Journal of Pathology set out to determine whether resveratrol reduces inflammation or serves as an anti-viral agent when administered to mice who had a condition resembling MS. The scientists were surprised to find that resveratrol appeared to actually promote myelin damage and inflammation, potentially worsening multiple sclerosis and associated symptoms. (Using mice with laboratory-induced conditions resembling multiple sclerosis is a well-accepted way to conduct preliminary studies, but it’s not always clear how mouse-model studies translate to human conditions.)
 
There’s clearly a lot left for scientists to sort out, especially since prior studies have shown that resveratrol can protect the nervous system in mice with MS-like disease. In the meantime, though, how should we regular folks – especially those of us who are contending with inflammation-related conditions such as MS – proceed?
 
My instinct is to, well, follow my instincts. In this case, until we have definitive guidance about how resveratrol may affect our health, I plan to enjoy my wine (in moderation, of course) without regard for its potential impact on my MS.
 
How about you? How much stock do you put in studies such as these?
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Jennifer

Jennifer LaRue Huget, Blogger

Jennifer LaRue Huget was diagnosed with MS in 2001. A freelance writer and children's book author, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, two teenage kids, and two brown dogs. Her website is www.jenniferlaruehuget.com.