Friday, November 03, 2006

A hundred bottles of red wine on the wall, a hundred bottles of red wine ....

But will it work on Guambats??

Wine Extract Keeps Fat Mice Healthy
Obese mice on a high-fat diet got the benefits of being thin - living healthier, longer lives - without the pain of dieting when they consumed huge doses of red wine extract, according to a landmark new study.

"This is fantastic," said Brown University molecular biology professor Stephen Helfand, who was the first reviewer for the journal Nature and not part of the team. "This is a historic landmark contribution."

Helfand said he won't be taking red wine extract supplements - but he has put his elderly parents on them. Such supplements are available at health food stores and on-line, but not at dose levels equivalent to what the mice in the experiment got - roughly equal to 100 bottles of wine a day in humans.

The study by the Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging shows that heavy doses of the red wine ingredient, resveratrol, lowers the rate of diabetes, liver problems and other fat-related ill effects in obese mice.

Fat-related deaths dropped 31 percent for obese mice on the supplement, compared to fat mice that got no treatment. The mice that got the wine extract also lived longer than expected, the study showed.

And astoundingly, the organs of the treated fat mice looked normal when they shouldn't have, said study lead author Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School. Sinclair said other preliminary work still under way shows the wine ingredient has promise in extending the lives of normal-sized mice, too.

Sinclair has a financial stake in the research. He is co-founder of a pharmaceutical firm, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., which is testing to see if the extract can safely be used to treat people with diabetes.

Sinclair's results are so [$$?] promising that he rushed the study into the science journal while the obese mice are still alive, not waiting several more weeks or months until they die. That raises some issues, including specific figures about mortality, but is understandable, said outside experts. The obese mice still lived past the median age for mice of their weight.

Resveratrol, produced when plants are under stress, is found in the skin of grapes and in other plants, including peanuts and some berries.

The 55 resveratrol-treated obese mice were on a high-calorie diet - what one scientist called a "McDonald's (nyse: MCD - news - people ) diet." Not only were they about as healthy as normal mice, they were also as agile and active on exercise equipment as their lean cousins, demonstrating a normal quality of life that was unexpected for such obese creatures, said study co-author Rafael de Cabo of the Institute on Aging.

"These fat old mice can perform as well on this skill test as young lean mice," Sinclair said.

The only major body measurement that didn't improve - aside from weight - was cholesterol, and that didn't seem to matter in the overall health of the mice, Sinclair said.

Some scientists, such as Weindruch and Hodes, worry that the research may encourage people to forget about their diets and wait for a red wine cure-all that may never come. And some are just plain wary.

"I don't believe resveratrol is there yet at all," said Sai Krupa Das, a scientist at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science, who is part of a massive study on the benefits of calorie-restricted diets. "This is not going to be the magic pill."

Yeah, well, who the bloody hell cares! Pass it around!!


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