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Red Wine Compound Might Not Increase Lifespan, Researchers Find

May 13, 2014 06:25 AM EDT
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(Photo : Flickr/ desegura89)

A new study shows that resveratrol, a compound found in red wine and chocolate, might not increase lifespan or reduce risk of heart diseases as believed earlier.

The compound is found in grapes and peanuts and several studies conducted on animals have shown that it helps protect the heart, decrease cancer occurrence and even add years to life.

However, a new study by researchers of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggests that the compound might not be involved in protecting the heart from inflammation or reducing the risk of early death.

This isn't the first study to say that the much-researched anti-oxidant might not be as beneficial as once considered.

In 2010, GlaxoSmithKline also stopped the development of a drug that was designed to imitate resveratrol, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

"The story of resveratrol turns out to be another case where health benefits of a particular item are hyped but it doesn't stand the test of time," said Richard D. Semba, M.D., M.P.H., professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "The thinking was that certain food items are good for you because they contain resveratrol. We didn't find that at all."

The study results don't indicate that people should stop eating fruits or dark chocolate. "It's just that the benefits, if they are there, must come from other polyphenols or substances found in those food items," he said in a news release. "These are complex foods, and all we really know from our study is that the benefits are probably not due to resveratrol," added Semba.

The study is part of a larger, long-term research being conducted in Chianti region of Italy. For 15 years, researchers have studied the effects of aging in a group of participants living in this region. The present study was based on a data from 783 people aged above 65 years. Researchers classified people based on resveratrol metabolites found in their urine samples. The team found no link between the compound intake and death rates.

None of the participants in the study took resveratrol supplements or were on any kind of special diet.

The study is published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. 

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