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Red Wine Questioned: Research Takes a Hit

By Nadine Salmon, BSN, IBCLC, Clinical Content Specialist AMN Healthcare

Red wine, in moderation, has long been considered good for the heart. The alcohol and antioxidants, particularly flavonoids called resveratrol, were thought to help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, thereby protecting against arterial damage. Now headlines in the news indicate that some of the research on resveratrol may be fraudulent!

A University of Connecticut (UConn) researcher, Dr. Dipak K. Das, studied the link between aging and resveratrol, and published at least 26 journal articles confirming the effectiveness of this flavonoid in maintaining healthy heart function (CNN Report, 2012 in The Week.com, 2012). Now reporters are confirming that Das has allegedly committed more than 100 acts of data fabrication and falsification, throwing much of his work into doubt. 

Das, who directed UConn’s Cardiovascular Research Center, had been under investigation since 2008. During their investigation the university had to turn down $890,000 in federal grants previously awarded to Das. The investigation, which began with an anonymous tip, eventually led to Das’ dismissal. Among other things, investigators concluded in their 60,000-page report, that Das had combined studies to fabricate desired results and that his misconduct took place over a 7-year period. Das has since defended his work. (CNN Report, 2012 in The Week.com, 2012).

Over the years, many scientists have been skeptical about various claims made about the benefits of resveratrol. Yet, Das’ studies garnered significant commercial interest, and have been cited by many researchers in their work on flavonoids and heart disease.

Despite the recent findings against Dr. Das, researchers believe that the field of study will suffer only minimal damage, as there are several current studies targeting the possible health benefits of resveratrol on a variety of maladies.  In the meantime, red wine is still believed to be beneficial to heart health when consumed in moderation (Mayo Clinic, 2012).

References:

Mayo Clinic (2012). Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart? Retrieved from:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/red-wine/HB00089

Oransky, M.I. (2012). Red wine-heart research slammed with fraud charge. Reuters Health. Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/12/us-red-wine-heart-idUSTRE80B0BH20120112

The Week.com (2012). Are red wine's health benefits 'wishful thinking'? Retrieved from: http://theweek.com/article/index/223325/are-red-wines-health-benefits-wishful-thinking

© 2012. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


 



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