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The French secret to anti-ageing? It’s a bit cheesy…

By Andrew MCDOUGALL , 11-Dec-2012
Last updated the 03-May-2013 at 10:22 GMT

A new generation of anti-ageing products could be developed after researchers stumbled upon the anti-inflammatory properties of cheese whilst trying to discover the secret behind the French paradox puzzle.

This relates to the low rates of cardiovascular mortality which have existed in France for decades despite high saturated fat consumption, constituting the epidemiological phenomenon: ‘the French paradox.’

According to researchers from Lycotec, unexpected anti-inflammatory factors discovered in the blue-vein cheese Roquefort, could lead to the development of a new generation of pharmaceuticals and future cosmetic products.

Potential applications

Extensive laboratory and clinical validation by the Cambridge-based doctors and scientists have demonstrated that these anti-inflammatory factors, which occur during the ripening of the cheese, have unique properties which work best in acidic environments; most notably in the stomach lining and skin surface.

“The anti-inflammatory factors found in these cheeses could be extracted and used independently or as a part of today's pharmaceutical or beauty products,” say study authors Dr Ivan Petyaev and Dr Yuriy Bashmakov.

“Moreover, there is a growing consensus that sub-clinical inflammation is behind many ageing processes, from the loss of skeletal muscles and cellulite to metabolic, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.”

This has lead the research team to urge beauty and pharmaceutical product companies to take a look at this new finding for future product ideas and partnerships, without the mouldy smell.

Get a whiff…

Lycotec started to publish its findings on the French cheese, initially suggesting that regular consumption of Roquefort, Camembert and other moulded fermented cheeses could be the answer to some of today's key health problems.

Despite a diet high in saturated fats, France has been known to have the lowest rate of cardiovascular mortality. This was originally attributed to consumption of red wine and its major constituent resveratrol.

However, recent studies indicate that consumption of red wine alone cannot explain the paradox and perhaps some other constituents of the typical French diet could be responsible for reduced cardiovascular mortality; leading to this study on cheese.

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Petyaev IM, Bashmakov YK. Could cheese be the missing piece in the French paradox puzzle? Med Hypotheses. 2012 Dec;79(6):746-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.08.018. Epub 2012 Sep 13. PubMed PMID: 22981595.

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