News on Health & Science

Red Wine May Hold Key to Long Life

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Have Your Cake and Eat It Too A new study in mice shows that a compound in red wine may help counteract the effects of obesity.It sounds too good to be true: a substance added to the diet that may help reverse some of the complications of obesity and even extend life. But that’s what David Sinclair, associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School, found in a study appearing in the online version of the journal Nature. The compound is called resveratrol (res-VAIR-uh-trawl), and it’s found naturally in red wine, at least in small amounts. Sinclair and his colleagues fed mice a high-calorie diet, with 60 percent of calories coming from fat. They also gave them resveratrol, which not only cut the death rate by 31 percent, but also reduced obesity-related complications associated with diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The test mice not only did better than a comparison group on the high-calorie diet minus resveratrol; they did almost as well as a third group of mice on a standard, lower-cal diet.

Before you get too excited, keep in mind that these results are only in mice. There is no evidence yet showing that it’s either safe or efficacious for people to consume the enormous quantities of resveratrol that would be required to achieve the same results in humans. But Sinclair hopes that more potent forms of the same compound or related compounds may one day be used as drugs to treat the effects of obesity. Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a company he cofounded, is working on developing such treatments now. Sinclair spoke by phone with NEWSWEEK’s Anne Underwood. Excerpts:

(As published in The News Week)

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