A number of other studies have shown the same protective effect in men, with slightly greater intake of wine, Ellison said.
Next, sunlight: In the same issue of the journal, a British-American team reported a trial in which levels of inflammation-related molecules were measured against blood levels of vitamin D, made naturally by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight.
"The purpose of the study was to see if there was a correlation between vitamin D levels and indicators of aging," said co-researcher Jeffrey P. Gardner, a professor at the Center of Human Development and Aging at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
In addition to measuring blood levels of inflammation-linked molecules such as C-reactive protein, the researchers also measured the length of sections of the women's DNA called telomeres.
"Other people's work indicated that telomeres were bioindicators of aging, more than a person's chronological age," Gardner said.
Longer telomeres indicate low levels of inflammation, he explained.
Sure enough, the data indicated that higher levels of circulating vitamin D was associated with longer telomere length. Women with the lowest concentration of vitamin C and highest concentration of C-reactive protein had telomeres short enough to indicate about 7.6 more years of aging than women with the highest vitamin D and lowest C-reactive protein levels.
"Optimal vitamin D status may provide a benefit during the aging process," the researchers concluded, with additional trials needed to prove the point.
Still, health experts caution that excessive exposure to sunlight remains a leading risk factor for skin cancer. And too much drinking can harm the body in numerous ways.
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