A chemical famous as a constituent of red wine appears to increase the life spans and boost the well-being of mice that haven't followed the healthiest of lifestyles, according to new research. The finding marks the first time that the compound, known as resveratrol, has shown life-lengthening benefits in a mammal.
In 2003, David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School in Boston and his colleagues reported that yeast dosed with resveratrol lived 60 percent longer than yeast that didn't receive the compound. Since then, his team and other researchers have discovered that this molecule can increase life span to varying extents in other organisms, including worms, flies, and fish.
Some studies have suggested that resveratrol works by activating the same genes that are turned on when an animal eats a severely limited number of calories, a method that's been shown to lengthen the lives of several types of organisms, including mammals.