Cancer Prevention and Red Wine

Red wine is a rich source of biologically active phytochemicals,
chemicals found in plants. Particular compounds called polyphenols found
in red wine, such as catechins and resveratrol, are thought to have anti
oxidant or anti cancer properties.

What are 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. What
is 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
plants.

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
progression.

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.

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