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Time to Take Resveratrol?

Resveratrol is thought to work by activating proteins called sirtuins that may influence aging and protect cells against stress.

Several pharmaceutical companies are testing molecules that activate the same chemical pathways as resveratrol, hoping to find drugs that may extend life and defend against conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dementia.

Experts who were not involved in the research called the findings exciting, but urged caution.

"This is quite impressive in terms of getting some data on clinical trials in humans," says Philippe Marambaud, PhD, Alzheimer's scientist at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y.

"It's a small group, and it's a short-term study," he says. "The long-term effects could be 10 times better or they could wash out."

Others agreed.

"The study is absolutely important. This is a fantastic extension to humans of what we knew in the mice," says Rafael de Cabo, PhD, a senior investigator at the National Institute on Aging, in Bethesda, Md.

But de Cabo says there's more to learn before people should take it. "There's a lot more work to do before we can recommend to anyone to take resveratrol."

There were no significant side effects reported in this study, but de Cabo says that could change when the supplement is taken by more people for longer periods of time.

"One of the things that still needs to be addressed is if resveratrol is safe in combination with other medications," de Cabo says.

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