By Steve Deane
A popular health supplement often promoted as an anti-ageing substance helps yeasts and worms live longer, but there is no evidence it does the same for humans, an Otago University study has found. Resveratrol, believed by some to be the miracle substance in red wine that explains why French people who consume a high-fat diet suffer comparatively low rates of heart disease, is taken in supplement form by as many as 40,000 New Zealanders, an industry figure estimated. Its benefits are said to include improved cardiovascular health, decreased likelihood of cancer, improved joint mobility, digestive health and brain function. While there is no reason to suspect those benefits - many of which are backed by scientific studies on animals - don't occur, there is no evidence to suggest resveratrol promotes a longer life, said Dr Shinichi Nakagawa, from Otago University. "It's marketed as an elixir of life, that extends life, and there is very little evidence for that." His research found evidence that resveratrol extended the life of yeasts and worms but was not proven to be effective in higher order lifeforms such as animals and humans.