Brain and Body

Does Red Wine Prevent Cancer?

September 4, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

A row of glasses containing red wine.
Photo credit: Lourdes Cardenal/Wikimedia Commons/

New research shows that low doses of a material found in red wine helps prevent bowel cancer. But before you drink up, there’s a few important things you should know.

Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine and some berries, has generated buzz since a series of studies indicated its incredible health benefits. The compound, which is naturally produced by some plants in response to bacterial and fungal infections, is thought to be a powerful antioxidant. Resveratrol reportedly promotes anti-aging in addition to its numerous disease-combating benefits. As well as triggering the process of cancer cell death (apoptosis) and limiting the spread of cancer cells, resveratrol may protect against heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Red wine contains some of the highest levels of resveratrol because, unlike white wine, it’s fermented with the grape skins, allowing the wine to extract resveratrol from the fruit. However, this doesn’t justify downing a few too many glasses of red wine when happy hour rolls around, because researchers have discovered that less is more.

A study published recently in the journal Science Translational Medicine determined that resveratrol can help prevent cancerous tumors, specifically bowel cancer. But low doses were more potent than large doses.

In comparing the amount of resveratrol found in one large glass of wine (approx. 250 ml) to a dose 200 times higher, results revealed that cancer-prone mice given the smaller dose showed a 50 percent reduction in tumor size while the high dose only shrunk the tumor 25 percent. However, there was a surprising factor in the results — lower doses of

While the laboratory studies have suggested that resveratrol has anti-cancer properties, they may only be effective for people with certain diets, lifestyles, and genetic makeups. It’s also essential to note that these studies don’t necessarily support that drinking red wine will reduce cancer risk since alcohol can increase the risk of developing the disease.

Resveratrol can also be found in the skin of grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and mulberries. Other sources include peanuts, cocoa powder, and dark chocolate.

Hat Tip: The Scientist

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