Friday, November 03, 2006

Of Vice and Men

Bring me more red wine. Oh, and a cheeseburger, some fries and a piece of chocolate cake.

In what has been called the “Holy Grail” of ageing research, a study by the Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging shows that large amounts of a specific red wine ingredient bestows the benefits of being thin on overweight mice with bad eating habits. Now before you go uncork that bottle of red and start raiding the refrigerator with animal abandon, remember that this is a new study and has only been performed on little creatures thus far. On the other hand, we wine lovers should embrace any study that shows there are health benefits to drinking an overabundance of our favorite beverage. I figure if I am going to drink more and more red wine as I get older, why not pick up some residual positive effects along the way?

The “wine extract” study is exciting scientists and pharmaceutical companies alike. It has been reported that all 27 of the reputable researchers involved found the results promising. The red wine ingredient in question is called resveratrol (found in grape skins) and in heavy doses it enables mice on a “McDonald’s diet” to live longer, healthier lives with lower rates of diabetes, liver problems and other ailments related to ageing and high fat diets. While in the wrong hands this information could be scary (I can’t help but picture some old dude filling up 4 plates at the breakfast buffet and washing his resveratrol pill down with a bloody mary) the study can potentially increase the quality of life for those at risk for various diseases that come with ageing.

There may be some good news for those of us who don’t plan on being obese in our old age as well. Additional work is now being done to prove that the effects of resveratrol extend to “normal sized” mice too. As the study’s lead author Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School says, “It's not an excuse to overeat but, for mice at least, this shows you can be "fat, happy, healthy and vigorous.” Forget the supplement; just bring me another glass of red. I’ll skip the French fries — for now.

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