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May 13, 2014 12:52 PM EDT

Wine, Chocolate May Not Improve Health

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A compound found in red wine, grapes and chocolate may not be linked to improved health as once claimed, according to a news study Reuters reported.

Researchers found that the antioxidant resveratrol was not associated with improved longevity, and a lower risk of heart disease or cancer among a group of elderly Italians, Reuters reported.

"This is contradictory to all the hype that we typically hear from the popular arena, Dr. Richard Semba, the study's lead author from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

Previous studies have shown red wine and chocolate to have beneficial effects on health, and those benefits were attributed largely to a single substance - resveratrol.

For the study, researchers used data from the Aging in Chianti Region study which tracked nearly 800 men and women 65 years or older from 1998 to 2009 in two villages in Italy. They were examined and asked to complete a questionnaire about their diets. Urine samples were also collected to measure levels of resveratrol.

These folks had a diet rich in resveratrol, the researchers note.

Although resveratrol levels were only measured once, Semba told Reuters that diet was assessed every three years via questionnaire and didn't change much during the study - so the researchers assume resveratrol in the urine stayed somewhat consistent as well.

After examining their resveratrol levels, researchers found no significant differences in the rate of death from those with lowest levels to the highest.  They also found no association between higher levels of the compound and a lower risk of heart disease or cancer.

Researchers concluded that dietary resveratrol did not translate into fewer deaths, cancers or heart problems.

"This study suggests that dietary resveratrol from Western diets in community-dwelling older adults does not have a substantial influence on inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or longevity," researchers wrote in the study.A compound found in red wine, grapes and chocolate may not be linked to improved health as once claimed, according to a news study Reuters reported.

Researchers found that the antioxidant resveratrol was not associated with improved longevity, and a lower risk of heart disease or cancer among a group of elderly Italians, Reuters reported.

"This is contradictory to all the hype that we typically hear from the popular arena, Dr. Richard Semba, the study's lead author from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

Previous studies have shown red wine and chocolate to have beneficial effects on health, and those benefits were attributed largely to a single substance - resveratrol.

For the study, researchers used data from the Aging in Chianti Region study which tracked nearly 800 men and women 65 years or older from 1998 to 2009 in two villages in Italy. They were examined and asked to complete a questionnaire about their diets. Urine samples were also collected to measure levels of resveratrol.

These folks had a diet rich in resveratrol, the researchers note.

Although resveratrol levels were only measured once, Semba told Reuters that diet was assessed every three years via questionnaire and didn't change much during the study - so the researchers assume resveratrol in the urine stayed somewhat consistent as well.

After examining their resveratrol levels, researchers found no significant differences in the rate of death from those with lowest levels to the highest.  They also found no association between higher levels of the compound and a lower risk of heart disease or cancer.

Researchers concluded that dietary resveratrol did not translate into fewer deaths, cancers or heart problems.

"This study suggests that dietary resveratrol from Western diets in community-dwelling older adults does not have a substantial influence on inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or longevity," researchers wrote in the study.

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