OK, so let me be clear from the outset, Resveratrol, a naturally occurring molecule most abundantly present in red grapes, still poses great potential in the prevention and treatment of heart disease and some cancers. By no means is this article trying to detract from the potential that Resveratrol may posses in relation to health and wellbeing, but rather it sets out to put the score(relatively) straight…
Misconduct investigation into head researcher
Although this isn’t recent news, it’s pretty prominent and significant. It stands as a prime example of why my title ‘The importance of questioning what you read’ stands true. In 2012 a renowned professor of the University of Connecticut Health Centre was flagged up for potentially fabricating research findings. The extent of fabrication was never fully understood, however falsified research findings in one area of research brings every other piece of info presented by the individual into disrepute. At the risk of digging up distasteful news considering the man contributed over 500 publications in his time, and sadly passed away in 2013, I feel this needs reinforcing. Dipak K. Das, Ph. D had letters of notification sent to 11 journal publications notifying them of his misconduct when falsifying scientific research findings. The University of Connecticut 60,000 page investigative report on Dr. Das is not available on the internet making it impossible to say for sure what was and wasn’t fabricated. However, what is clear is that despite Dr Das’s dishonesty in certain areas, he did contribute an awful lot of very useful information to health, wellbeing and disease prevention. More important than this, just because of the distasteful revelations surrounding some of his work, the health potential of resveratrol should not be disregarded!
Resveratrols potential is still present…but it remains 'potential' at this stage
Many studies have shown how consuming red wine may reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD), whilst several other studies have exhibited antioxidant properties of resveratrol, suggesting that it may even be more potent than other well known antioxidants such as vitamin C and E. It may also be influential in the prevention and treatment of some cancers, this is in part attributed to its potential antioxidant properties which would reduce the activity of free radicals and resultant cell damage. Other research suggests that this molecule might also reduce the rate of cell mutation, but these have only been presented in animals. In fact, much of the evidence around resveratrol is based on animal studies making it relatively speculative when making prescriptive claims in humans.
So how do you separate the good from the bad?
It’s not easy, I have performed several paper reviews and critiques in my time as a student and even I struggle. It takes expert knowledge in all areas, and that clearly isn’t plausible. So should you wish to steer clear of bogus, poorly reviewed publications then stick to reading stringently peer reviewed studies (research that is reviewed by a panel of experts in that area), and particularly meta-analyses, these provide a consensus of opinion on a collection of studies in a certain field e.g. the effects of resveratrol on cancer prevention. So continue to stay informed as best you can, and remember the number one rule when it comes to reading research papers…NEVER consider one paper in isolation!
Retraction Watch, (2013). UConn resveratrol researcher Dipak Das fingered in sweeping misconduct case. Retrieved 15th May, 2014, from http://retractionwatch.com/2012/01/11/uconn-resveratrol-researcher-dipak-das-fingered-in-sweeping-misconduct-case/
UCONN, (2012). Scientific journals notified following research misconduct investigation. Retrieved 15th May, 2014, from http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2012/01/scientific-journals-notified-following-research-misconduct-investigation/