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The Takeaway: Resveratrol Supplements Mimic Low-Calorie Diet; More Americans Overdosing On Painkillers

Wine For Weight-Loss? Red wine might not only make you feel fine- it may also give your metabolism a boost. A small study of obese men found their metabolism improved when they took a daily supplement of resveratrol, the ingredient that's thought to give red wine its health-promoting powers. In general, the  resveratrol acted much like a low-calorie diet, said researchers, reducing the men's energy expenditure, lowering metabolic rates, lowering blood pressure and blood sugar and reducing liver fat (though it didn't promote weight-loss). Animal studies have previously shown that resveratrol can reduce insulin resistance and otherwise help mimic the effects of diet and exercise.

"We have shown for the first time that resveratrol works in humans," said lead researcher Patrick Schrauwen, of the Netherlands' Maastricht University.

But before you rush out to the wine cabinet, note: The men in the study took 150 mg of resveratrol supplement daily. To get that much resveratrol from wine would mean drinking over two gallons per day! Previous research has shown some of resveratrol's benefits can be derived from a regular (normal-sized) glass of Merlot or Pinot Noir. But alcohol and health is always tricky: Other studies find even small amounts of alcohol may up your risk for certain diseases,  such as breast cancer.

Resveratrol supplements are widely available-but Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale, warns:

"We do not know what the long-term effects of resveratrol supplementation in humans will be. Perhaps effects wear off with time. Perhaps adverse aspects of altered gene expression show up late. We have leapt before without looking carefully enough, and should proceed with caution and care."

Hmm ... perhaps there's no substitute for a good diet and exercise, after all. 

Painkiller Death Toll Rises: The number of overdose deaths from prescription painkillers more than tripled over the last decade, according to a new government report-and middle-aged adults make up the highest percentage of those deaths.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4,000 Americans died from overdosing on prescription painkillers in 1999; by 2008, that number shot up to 14,800. About 5 percent of American adults say they've abused painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and methadone. States with the highest number of overdoses included Alaska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Oklahoma.

For older adults, there's mounting evidence that regular use of certain common, over-the-counter painkillers (like Advil) could be dangerous, triggering  heart attacks or  strokes in some people.

Wednesday Quick Hits: 

  • Hilary Clinton's mother, Dorothy Rodham, died yesterday, at 92. Clinton says her mother was a powerful influence on her life and career.

Photo: Sheila Paras/Flickr/Getty Images

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