Quit your wining -- or don't, and live longer

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For years we've known about a curious dietary anomaly that the French enjoy: their foods are soaked in butter, cheese and other high-cholesterol substances, they drink wine like it's going out of style, and yet they're healthier than Americans. The key, scientists have guessed, is somewhere in the wine. Well, they're not guessing anymore. An international team has isolated a chemical in red wine called resveratrol, which when given to lab mice in conjunction with a high-calorie diet allows those mice to live longer, with healthier hearts and livers than fat mice who weren't given the chemical. In fact, the study concludes, the resveratrol mice's health indicators were almost on par with those of mice who had been given a low-fat diet.

Bully for the mice, you're saying. What does this mean for humans? Well, potentially, it spells guilt-free gluttony: type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer -- all conditions that can stem from high-calorie diets -- could be greatly reduced. Of course, as with every study, it comes with a caveat: "only time and more research" will be able to verify it. Oh, and one more thing: the safety of high-level doses of resveratrol in humans is unknown, and the amount you get from a glass of red wine is only about 0.3% of that given to the lab mice. So just cool it for awhile, big boy; send back that cheeseburger and finish your veggies.

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November 2, 2006 - 3:33am
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