Drinking Red Wine May Slow Aging

Compound Found in Red Wine May Increase Cell Longevity

Medically Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD on August 26, 2003
From the WebMD Archives

Aug. 25, 2003 -- Researchers may be one step closer to finding the fountain of youth. They say they've identified how a compound commonly found in red wine, peanuts, and grapes slows the aging process while increasing maximum lifespan.

The compound is called resveratrol -- a natural antioxidant. For years, researchers have studied reservatrol, linking it to reduced risk of cancer, atherosclerosis, heart disease, and brain diseases such as Alzheimer's disease -- all diseases that are more prevalent as we age.

Researchers have been anxiously trying to identify substances that influence age-regulating genes. And it looks like reservatrol may be one of them. They say the discovery could possibly help them develop drugs that extend life or treat aging-related diseases such as Alzheimer's disease or heart disease. Their study appears in the latest issue of Nature.

Extending Cell Life

The Harvard medical school researchers note there is existing evidence that calorie restriction can extend lifespan across a range of species. The new study shows that resveratrol -- commonly found in plants (fruits and nuts, especially in red grapes, mulberries, raspberries, and peanuts) -- may be able to replicate this process, allowing cells to live longer.

After screening thousands of molecules, the research group says it found that resveratrol mimics calorie restriction in yeast -- activating enzymes that slow aging, increasing the stability of DNA, hence extending lifespan by as much as 70%. Researchers suspect plants make these age-slowing molecules as a defense response.

Reservatrol is associated with a surprising number of health benefits, most notably in age-related diseases, including: cancer, atherosclerosis, and brain disorders.

Researchers now hope to eventually test how resveratrol works in other subjects, including humans.

SOURCE: Howitz, K. Nature, Aug. 24, 2003.