June 4, 2008— -- A group of scientists at the University of Wisconsin at Madison says there is a new reason to toast to the benefits of red wine.
Scientists have long thought a natural compound called resveratrol, which is found in some red wines, could help slow the aging process by helping to protect tissues inside the body. The question has been whether just a glass or two of wine could really make a difference.
The Wisconsin researchers announced today that it doesn't take as much red wine as many researchers had previously thought.
And at wine bars in New York City, they were already fielding calls.
"This morning I started getting phone calls saying, 'we heard about the red wine that prolongs your life. Which wine has it?'" said Nikos Antonakeas, owner of Morrell Wine Bar and Cafe.
Scientists at Harvard Medical School who have studied the impact of resveratrol on mice showed ABC News images of two rodents. Both were the same age, but the one on resveratrol was much more agile and running much more quickly than the other.
Many scientists are convinced that humans could see the same kind of anti-aging benefits, but there is a catch. How much resveratrol would it take?
In previous studies, mice had been given the equivalent of what they would have gotten from 100 bottles of wine a day.
But that's what is different with the findings in the Wisconsin study released today. The researchers used much lower levels on their mice and still had positive results.
"The precise number of glasses of wine or bottles of wine are difficult to predict," said Wisconsin-Madison professor Richard Weindruch, the author of the study.
As the research continues, some scientists are already popping corks, wondering if it is possible to put resveratrol in a pill.
David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School is trying, and just this week, his start-up company was sold to a pharmaceutical giant for $720 million.
"I used to think it was probably 100 years in the future that we'd see these anti-aging drugs come around," Sinclair said. "Now, I'm optimistic that we'll see these within the next few years."
Still, many in the medical community say "not so fast," and warn that there is plenty of research to come.
Even so, red wine lovers have already been given another reason to toast.