Alcohol drops can extend life
UCLA biochemists have reason to suspect that very miniscule amounts of alcohol can extend life, as they’ve found that a very tiny amount of ethanol given to a worm often used as a model in aging studies more than doubled the life span of the worm.
“This finding floored us,” exclaimed UCLA professor Steven Clark, who was the senior author of the study.
The abovementioned study was entirely serendipitous, however, as the original intent of the research was to study the effect of cholesterol. The scientists found that the cholesterol-fed worms lived longer.
But they later realized that it was not the cholesterol creating the longevity effect. The cholesterol was dissolved in ethanol, diluted 1,000-fold.
It turned out, they later discovered, that it was the ethanol solvent that was creating the effect. “The cholesterol did nothing,” said Clarke.
What the ethanol did was let the worms, which normally live for 15 days, survive for up to 40 days.
The authors, though, note that the ethanol was in very, very tiny amounts – about a tablespoon of ethanol in a bathtub of water. If we were talking about the alcohol in one bottle of beer, you’d have to add a hundred gallons of water to reach the same concentration.
Now the question is, what makes alcohol create this effect?
Clarke admits they don’t know yet. All they know is that the moment they increased the concentration of the ethanol, the benefit disappeared.
Ethanol is the type of alcohol most often found in alcoholic beverages.
The study was published in 18 January in the online journal PLoS ONE.