Monday, October 10, 2011

Does Red Wine Increase Your Life-Span? Ask Your Sirtuins.

It depends who you ask. London researchers of Nature journal would say no, while others would tell you: wrong question. The real proteins of interest are not in red wine, but supposedly affected by it. Sirtuins are proteins involved in controlling cells' metabolism, previously shown to mediate around a 40% longer life expectancy of the tested lab rats and mice (on a very low-calorie diet). While people couldn't sustain such diets that induce this amount of sirtuin, interest was taken in creating a drug that could activate sirtuin, as a hypothetically solution to a healthier and longer life.

A 2001 experiment by Dr. Guarene of MIT confirmed this by reportedly showing that roundworms and flies genetically manipulated to produce excess sirtuin lived longer. Studies by Stephen Helfand of Brown University in the early 2000's also reportedly showed that resveratrol, a substance found in red wine, activated sirtuin, essentially acting like this hypothetical drug. Therefore red wine gives your body resveratrol, which stimulates situin, which increases cell metabolim and gives you a longer, healthier life!

However, a recent article by British scientists in Nature journal say- Not So Fast. Nature expressed doubts that resveratrol really effects sirtuin, and if the sirtruins are the 'real or only mediators' of the increase in life-span. In re-examining these experiments, Nature claims to have found flawed 'control' worms and flies, as their genetic background did not match the test organisms. Nature scientists the repeated the experiments with monitored control groups and reportedly found that extra sirtuin does not make worms or flies live longer.

While admitting to the "glitch in one of the worm strains" used in the previous tests, both Dr. Guarente and Mr. Helfand rebutted the article, claiming that they had re-done their tests with the right procedures and subsequent tests with the correct control groups still supported their original results.

Debates still continue as to whether Nature was too nit-picky about these scientists' previously flawed, but corrected, experiments, or if the aging field is too young and full of sloppy experiments to be taken seriously. However, scientists outside of the debate remain interested in the role of sirtuin on life-expectancy. Richard Miller of University of Michigan says that while the popular "notion that drinking red wine can make people live longer... 'should have been abandoned fiver years ago,'" sirtuins are still a very important protein in monitoring how diseases are controlled.

Whether in expanding your life expectancy or controlling your diseases, it is situins, not red wine, that we should keep our eye out for.

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