Researchers believe they have identified a fundamental cause of aging, according to a study published this week in the journal Cell.
I thought "a fundamental cause of aging" was the passage of time. But what do I know, right?
The mechanism was previously found in fungus and has now been discovered in mice.
Again, with the mice.
It's likely that the same process applies to humans, said the authors of the research, from Harvard.
Hahvahd. Okay, they must know what they're talking about.
The study found that DNA damage, which accrues as we age, decreases a cell's ability to regulate which genes are turned on and off in particular settings. Though DNA damage speeds up aging, the actual cause is not the DNA damage but the lack of gene regulation. However, this lack of gene regulation, called epigenetics, may be reversible.
O.K. So DNA damage doesn't cause aging; it only speeds it up. What actually causes aging is "lack of gene regulation".
Therefore, anything that helps regulate genes will prevent aging.
The study focused on a group of genes called sirtuins that are involved in the aging process. Sirtuins respond to DNA damage to repair it but appear to become overwhelmed as DNA damage accumulates during aging. When DNA damage accumulates, the sirtuins became too distracted to properly regulate gene activity. This was found in yeast about 10 years ago. The new study shows it also occurs in mice.
Okay. So sirtuins regulate genes — or rather — they would if only the DNA damage would get out of the way.
But when stimulated by either the chemical in red wine, resveratrol, or by caloric restriction, sirtuins appear to function better. In the study, researchers administered extra copies of the sirtuin gene, or fed resveratrol to mice that were genetically altered to develop lymphoma. That extended their lifespan by 24% to 46%.
So I had to do a little googling, and found out where you can your hands on resveratrol. We already know that it is in red wines, but some red wines are better than others:
|Beverage||Total resveratrol (mg/L)||Total resveratrol in a 5 ounce glass (mg)|
|Red Wines (Global)||1.98 – 7.13||0.30 – 1.07|
|Red Wines (Spanish)||1.92 – 12.59||0.29 – 1.89|
|Red grape juice (Spanish)||1.14 – 8.69||0.17 – 1.30|
|Rose Wines (Spanish)||0.43 – 3.52||0.06 – 0.53|
|Pinot Noir||0.40 – 2.0||0.06 – 0.30|
|White Wines (Spanish)||0.05 – 1.80||0.01 – 0.27|
It's also found in peanuts, although at a much lower level (about half of red wine, ounce for ounce).
It also can be found in cranberry juice, although typically in lower amounts, and it varies by region of cranberries.
Japanese knotweed is a commercial supplement which contains high amounts of resveratrol. And there are other commercial supplements as well.
Or… you could just get drunk on red wine, I suppose.