The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Have red wine, forget calories

Boston, Aug. 24 (Reuters): Researchers have known for years that cutting calories can prolong life in everything from yeast cells to mammals. But an easier way to live longer may be as simple as turning a corkscrew.

Molecules found in red wine, peanuts and other products of the plant world have for the first time been shown to mimic the life-extending effects of calorie restriction, a finding that could help researchers develop drugs that lengthen life and prevent or treat aging-related diseases.

Researchers today said one of the molecules, a compound known as resveratrol, was shown in a study to extend the life span of yeast cells by up to 80 per cent. Resveratrol exists naturally in grapes and red wine.

David Sinclair, an assistant professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and co-author of the study, said he and his fellow researchers hope the molecules will prove to prolong life not just in yeast but in multi-cellular organisms like worms, fruit flies and, perhaps, humans.

Sinclair, whose study appears in the advanced online edition of the journal Nature, said tests on worms and flies were already yielding “encouraging” results.

“I can’t say any more because I will scoop my next two publications,” he said, adding that similar trials were already being planned on mice.

Sinclair said he has become more “enthusiastic” about the purported health benefits of red wine since his research began, and that experts who have reviewed his findings have had a similar response. “Not many people know about it yet, but those who do have almost invariably changed their drinking habits, that is, they drink more red wine,” he said.

The molecules that were shown to extend life in yeast belong to a family of compounds known as polyphenols. These include resveratrol that is already thought to make red wine healthy in moderate amounts.

Sinclair said the latest study may help explain why moderate consumption of red wine has been linked to lower incidence of heart disease and why resveratrol prevents cancer in mice. “We’re connecting many dots with this study,” he said.

Scientists have known for decades that putting organisms on a calorie-restricted diet dramatically reduces the incidence of age-related illnesses such as cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease.

In the 1990s, research showed that single genes can control how fast organisms age, leading to a search for ways of manipulating those genes.

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