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Drink 8 bottles of wine, you'll be unharmed if hit by Mike Tyson

True medical fact: Trials with boxers underway

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Top boffins in Texas believe they will soon provide solid proof of an astonishingly useful biological fact: that if you drink eight bottles of red wine you can be punched in the head by a professional heavyweight boxer and it will do you no harm at all.

We're paraphrasing slightly, of course. The researchers, based at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, believe that resveratrol – a compound found in red wine and grape juice, already well known for the various other medical benefits it is thought to offer – can help the brain to resist damage following concussion. Trials are to commence involving professional boxers taking resveratrol following a bout.

"We know from animal studies that if we give the drug immediately after or soon after a brain injury, it can dramatically and significantly reduce the damage you see long term," says Dr Joshua Gatson, professor of surgery and principal investigator for the study. "There haven't been any completed human studies yet, so this is really the first look at resveratrol's effect on traumatic brain injury."

Either fortunately or unfortunately depending on viewpoint, Dr Gatson believes that one would need to quaff substantial amounts of wine to obtain a sufficient resveratrol dose to be beneficial having got the worst of an encounter with Mike Tyson or one of his colleagues.

"Even though resveratrol is found in red wine, you would need 50 glasses of wine to get the required dose to get the protection you would need," says the prof. This would equate to drinking around eight or nine bottles singlehanded, a fairly time-consuming task, so the pugilists in the study will instead take resveratrol in pill form.

The boxers will have their brains assessed using MRI scans and other boffinry tools, allowing Gatson and his colleagues to quantify the protective benefit of the grape.

If the therapy proves successful, resveratrol may become a common treatment not just for sporting injuries but for any concussions resulting from "everyday incidents such as falls, auto accidents and other blows to the head", according to this statement from the UT Southwestern Center. ®

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