Why have wine drinkers always toasted to a long life?
The key may lie in researchers findings in study after study that suggests cancer-fighting properties are abundant in red wine. Even more research is being done to identify a number of other health benefits of wine drinking such as lower cholesterol and relief from
Scientific studies are making news with results that come to the conclusion that wines, in particular red wines, are a rich source of biologically active phytochemicals, which simply means chemicals found in plants. Many of these chemicals are also active in people working to prevent disease and slow down aging. Compounds called polyphenols - such as catechins and resveratrol - found in red wine, are thought to have antioxidant or anticancer properties.
What are polyphenols and how do they prevent cancer? Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds found in the skin and seeds of grapes and some other fruits. 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 when white wine is made, the skins of the grapes are removed after the grapes are crushed to keep the dark colored skins from changing the color of the wine. Since the grape skin is included in the red wine making process, phenols in such as resveratrol, catechin, gallic acid and epicatechin are released into the wine.
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 over and over 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. Plants have developed the ability to produce these compounds as a defense system against disease. Like the immune system in humans, these chemicals are produced in some plant to help fight off an invading fungus, stress, injury, infection or ultraviolet irradiation. Red wine contains high levels of resveratrol from grapes. Raspberries, peanuts and other plants are also known to produce these compounds.
Resveratrol has been shown to reduce tumor incidence in animals. The scientific studies have found that it works by affecting one or more stages of cancer development. It has been shown to slow down or stop the growth of many types of cancer cells in culture and in studies with animals.
Evidence also exists that it can reduce inflammation providing a defense against arthritis. Some studies have found resveratrol helpful in preventing and proiding relief from osteoarthritis. 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 that can bind free radicles that are thought to be a major cause of cancer, aging and other harmful processes in our bodies.
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.
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.
Drinking red wine will not cure cancer, but it does seem that it can lower the risk of many types of cancer. None of the research recommends drinking large amounts of wine... the excess alcohol has too many bad side effects.
So, raise a glass of resveratrol-loaded red wine... to your health!