If you think an occasional glass of wine could give protect your vital organs from the damaging effects of anti-oxidants and enjoy eternal youthfulness, you may be wrong.

A study conducted by researchers in Canada has disputed the long-held belief that oxidative stress harms body tissues and shortens the lifespan. The anti-oxidants theorists hold that food and drinks rich with these substances including wine and vitamins could protect from stress and delay ageing.

In the new study conducted by researchers at the McGill University in Canada pinpointed mutations in 10 different genes of worms which extend their lifespan without reducing the level of oxidative stress the worms suffer.

They believe that the culprit genes have counterparts in humans. The new findings go contradictory to the existing scientific wisdom that production of toxic reactive oxygen species in tissues is responsible for ageing.

The study instead indicates that a slow rate of living and reduced energy metabolism is sufficient to increase longevity of body parts even if a person is unable to reduce the overall levels of oxidative stress that comes his way.

"We hope that our study will help in tempering the undue emphasis put on the notion that oxidative stress causes ageing and thus that antioxidants could combat ageing," says Dr Siegfried Hekimi, senior author of the study.

The newly discovered gene can be used in the future to modulate energy metabolism in a way that can help delay the health issues linked to ageing, and possibly increase lifespan itself, hope the researchers who published their findings in the journal Genetics.