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Study: red wine substance counteracts bad diet, extends life

Nov. 1, 2006
Courtesy Nature
and World Science staff
Updated Nov. 2

A com­pound in red wine—found to have life-extending ef­fects in var­i­ous small an­i­mals—in­creases lifes­pan and im­proves health even in mice on fatty di­ets, a study re­ports. 

Da­vid Sin­clair of Har­vard Med­i­cal School in Cam­bridge, Mass., and col­leagues fed mice doses of the small mol­e­cule, res­ver­a­trol, along with oth­er­wise un­healthy, high-cal­o­rie di­ets. 

The treat­ment shifted the ro­dents’ phys­i­ol­o­gy to­wards that of mice fed a stand­ard di­et, ac­cord­ing to Sin­clair. They lived long­er than mice on the same high-fat di­et with­out resver­a­trol, the re­search­ers found, and even though they did­n’t lose any weight, their qual­i­ty of life was al­so im­proved; they had health­i­er liv­ers and bet­ter mo­tor co­or­di­na­tion. 

Resver­a­trol seems to count­er var­i­ous of the health risks as­so­ci­at­ed with a high-fat di­et, but with­out skimp­ing on the calo­ries, Sin­clair ar­gued.

When scaled up, the doses used in the mouse study should be fea­si­ble for hu­man con­sump­tion, but it’s not yet clear wheth­er the mol­e­cule will yield si­m­i­lar ef­fects in peo­ple, he said. If it does, he added, it may lead to the de­vel­op­ment of drugs that can re­duce some of the neg­a­tive con­se­quenc­es of ex­cess cal­o­rie in­take and im­prove health and sur­viv­al.

Res­vera­t­rol is found in the high­est le­vels in Pi­not Noir wine, past stu­dies have found. But the dos­ages of the che­m­i­cal used in the mouse stu­dies are equi­valent to hun­d­reds of bot­tles a day for hu­mans, so the drink may not be a good ve­hi­cle to de­li­ver useful doses.

The mouse research is to ap­pear in to­mor­row’s is­sue of the re­search jour­nal Na­ture.


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A compound in red wine—found to have life-extending effects in various small animals—extends lifespan and improves health even in mice living on a high-calorie diet, a new study reports. David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Mass., and colleagues fed mice high-calorie diets supplemented with doses of with the small molecule, resveratrol. The treatment shifted the animals’ physiology towards that of mice fed a standard diet, according to Sinclair. They lived longer than mice on the same high-fat diet without resveratrol, the researchers found, and even though they didn’t lose any weight, their quality of life was also improved; they had healthier livers and better motor coordination. Resveratrol seems to counter various of the health risks associated with a high-fat diet, but without skimping on the calories, Sinclair argued. When scaled up, the doses used in the mouse study should be feasible for human consumption, but it’s not yet clear whether the molecule will yield similar effects in people, he said. If it does, he added, it may lead to the development of drugs that can reduce some of the negative consequences of excess calorie intake and improve health and survival. The study is to appear in tomorrow’s issue of the research journal Nature.