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Fountain of Youth, with caveats

Resveratrol helps hearts in mice, but doesn’t reproduce all the benefits of low-calorie diets

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11:09am, July 3, 2008

A substance found in red wine and touted as the chemical equivalent of the fountain of youth probably acts more like a wellspring of health — with warning signs.

Resveratrol, as the chemical is known, does a pretty good job of mimicking some age-defying effects found in studies of animals on calorie-restricted diets. But the substance doesn’t make animals live longer, a new study shows.

At the same time, boosting levels of a key enzyme thought to be responsible for resveratrol action and for the life-extending properties of calorie restriction does protect mice fed high-fat diets from heart problems.

But a third group of researchers warns that more activity of the enzyme, called SirT1, may make brain cells vulnerable to damage.

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