The Office on Women’s Health estimates that about 10 percent of women of childbearing age have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition caused by a hormonal imbalance that leads to a range of symptoms. New research suggests that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in wine, may ease PCOS. Resveratrol is found in a foods including nuts, dark chocolate, berries, and red grapes, which means — you guessed it — that it also exists in red wine. Don’t bust out the cabernet just yet, however: Although the antioxidant is found in wine, you’d have to drink a ridiculous amount of it (upwards of 100 bottles a day, according to lead study author Antoni Duleba, MD) to have any effect on PCOS symptoms. (Cue sad trombone.)
Although research is still ongoing, this study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, offers hopeful news for women who suffer from PCOS, a tricky condition caused by the overproduction of androgens, testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), hormones that tend to be associated with male biology. Symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, excess body hair, acne, fatigue, pelvic pain, and weight gain. Sixty percent of women with PCOS are also at increased risk of developing type II diabetes.
Duleba and his colleagues tested out the effect of resveratrol on PCOS by conducting a 3-month-long, double blind study with 30 female participants. Half of the women were given resveratrol supplements, and half were given placebos. You may have of resveratrol before — past studies have suggested that the antioxidant may boost longevity and help with weight loss, cancer prevention, and memory retention. Subsequent research, however, has shown that the usefulness of the antioxidant may have been overestimated.
This new study showed promising results for women with PCOS. The subjects who took the resveratrol supplements had a decrease in testosterone levels of 23.1 percent, compared to women taking the placebo, who had an increase in testosterone of almost 3 percent. The group taking the supplement also had a 22.2 percent drop in DHEAS, while the placebo group had a DHEAS increase of 10.5 percent. Furrthermore, the study had good news for PCOS sufferers at risk for diabetes. Duleba told Mental Floss that women who took resveratrol supplements displayed “reduced insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity.”
In a press release, Duleba said that the study’s outcomes “suggest resveratrol can improve the body's ability to use insulin and potentially lower the risk of developing diabetes. The supplement may be able to help reduce the risk of metabolic problems common in women with PCOS.” More research needs to be done before resveratrol can be used to treat PCOS on a regular basis, but Duleba told Medscape Medical News that larger trials of the antioxidant as a PCOS treatment are currently under consideration.