Brent Bauer, director of the complementary and integrative medicine program at the clinic, said data showing the effects of resveratrol, a substance found in red wine, in mice bears further investigation, but the popularity of the ingredient as a dietary supplement is largely baseless, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
"The right place now with resveratrol is to say that this is really intriguing data, but mice aren't humans," Bauer said.
Bauer said a chemical known as beta carotene became a popular cancer preventive after initial studies showed promise, but a 1996 discovery that it did not prevent lung cancer or heart disease and was even found to be potentially harmful to smokers.
David Sinclair, a biologist at Harvard Medical School who lead one of the studies of the supplement's effects in mice, agreed it is too soon to recommend the substance to consumers. He said detailed information about toxicity and side effects is still unavailable.
"It's the worry about the unknown," he said.