Red Wine Protects Against Cancer
Why have wine drinkers always toasted to a long life?
The key may lie in recent research that suggests
cancer-fighting properties are abundant in red wine. Even
more research is required to identify a number of other
health benefits to wine drinking.
Scientific studies have shown that in particular red wines
are a rich source of biologically active phytochemicals,
chemicals found in plants. Compounds called polyphenols
found in red wine - such as catechins and resveratrol - are
thought to have antioxidant or anticancer properties.
polyphenols and how do they prevent cancer?
Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds found in the skin and
seeds of grapes. When wine is made from these grapes, the
alcohol produced by the fermentation process dissolves the
polyphenols contained in the skin and seeds. Red wine
contains more polyphenols than white wine because the making
of white wine requires the removal of the skins after the
grapes are crushed. The phenols in red wine include catechin,
gallic acid and epicatechin.
Polyphenols have been found to have antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from
oxidative damage caused by molecules called free radicals.
These chemicals can damage important parts of cells,
including proteins, membranes and DNA. Cellular damage
caused by free radicals has been implicated in the
development of cancer. Research on the antioxidants found in
red wine has shown that they may help inhibit the
development of certain cancers.
resveratrol and how does it prevent cancer?
Resveratrol is a type of polyphenol called a phytoalexin, a
class of compounds produced as part of a plant's defense
system against disease. It is produced in the plant in
response to an invading fungus, stress, injury, infection or
ultraviolet irradiation. Red wine contains high levels of
resveratrol, as do grapes, raspberries, peanuts and other
Resveratrol has been shown to reduce tumor incidence in
animals by affecting one or more stages of cancer
development. It has been shown to inhibit growth of many
types of cancer cells in culture. Evidence also exists that
it can reduce inflammation. It also reduces activation of NF
kappa B, a protein produced by the body's immune system when
it is under attack. This protein affects cancer cell growth
and metastasis. Resveratrol is also an antioxidant.
What have red
wine studies found?
The cell and animal studies of red wine have examined
effects in several cancers including leukemia, skin, breast
and prostate cancers. Scientists are studying resveratrol to
learn more about its cancer preventive activities. Recent
evidence from animal studies suggests this anti-inflammatory
compound may be an effective chemopreventive agent in three
stages of the cancer process: initiation, promotion and
However, studies of the association between red wine
consumption and cancer in humans are in their initial
stages. Although consumption of large amounts of alcoholic
beverages may increase the risk of some cancers, there is
growing evidence that the health benefits of red wine are
related to its nonalcoholic components.
Source: National Cancer Institute