Hydrogen sulphide - the gas that gives rotten eggs their distinctive foul smell could lead to fountain of youth and block damaging chemical reactions inside cells, say scientists.
The scientists, who reviewed studies on the malodorous gas and its effects on the cardiovascular and nervous systems, found that Hydrogen sulphide activates a gene implicated in longevity in a similar way to resveratrol, an antioxidant in red wine, the Age reported.
Unlike resveratrol, hydrogen sulphide is made by the body.
It appears to slow ageing and ageing-related diseases in at least three main ways, said Jiang Zhisheng and colleagues at the University of South China in Hengyang City, Hunan, in a report slated for publication next month in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology.
The gas helps counter cell-damaging free-radicals; encourages production of an enzyme thought to be a regulator of lifespan; and interacts with a gene that appears to have its own market basket of anti-ageing activity.
"Data available so far strongly suggest that hydrogen sulphide may become the next potent agent for preventing and ameliorating the symptoms of ageing and age-associated diseases," Jiang said in a statement, adding that people may one day take hydrogen sulphide-rich food or supplements to slow ageing.