Impending nuclear attack? Then scientists may soon recommend that it is best you start drinking heavily and not just because you may be facing oblivion.
By Richard Alleyne 3:01PM BST 23 Sep 2008
According to the latest research, red wine – along with its many other claimed benefits – may also protect you from radiation exposure.
A team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have discovered that resveratrol, the natural anti-oxidant found in red wine, can protect cells from the damage caused by radiation.
In experiments on mice the scientists found that when combined with the chemical acetyl and administered before radiation exposure it protected the cells and helped prevent death.
The results, to be presented to the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, could lead to drugs to counteract poisoning in the wake of a nuclear emergency or attack.
“New, small molecules with radioprotective capacity will be required for treatment in case of radiation spills or even as countermeasures against radiological terrorism,” said Dr Joel Greenberger of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the university.
“Small molecules which can be easily stored, transported and administered are optimal for this, and so far acetylated resveratrol fits these requirements well.
“Currently there are no drugs on the market that protect against or counteract radiation exposure.”
The study was overseen by Pitt’s Center for Medical Countermeasures Against Radiation, which is dedicated to finding radiation protecters that can be administered in the event of a large-scale radiological or nuclear emergency.
The current research is not connected to advice given to workers cleaning up Chernobyl who were told to drink half a glass of vodka after every two hours of exposure to radiation.