BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have found that nutrients in red wine may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
The study involved male mice that were fed a plant compound found in red wine called resveratrol, which has shown anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. Other sources of resveratrol in the diet include grapes, raspberries, peanuts and blueberries.
In the study resveratrol-fed mice showed an 87 percent reduction in their risk of developing prostate tumors that contained the worst kind of cancer-staging diagnosis. The mice that proved to have the highest cancer-protection effect earned it after seven months of consuming resveratrol in a powdered formula mixed with their food.
Other mice in the study, those fed resveratrol but still developed a less-serious form of prostate cancer, were 48 percent more likely to have their tumor growth halted or slowed when compared to mice who did not consume the compound, the UAB research team said.
The findings were published in August through the online edition of the Journal of Carcinogenesis.
This study adds to a growing body of evidence that resveratrol consumption through red wine has powerful chemoprevention properties, in addition to its apparent heart-health benefits, said lead study author Coral Lamartiniere, Ph.D., of UAB's Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
An earlier UAB study published May 2006 in the same journal found resveratrol-fed female mice had considerable reduction in their risk of breast cancer.
Lamartiniere said his research team has been pleasantly surprised at the chemoprevention power of wine and berry polyphenols like resveratrol in animal models.
"A cancer prevention researcher lives for these days when they can make that kind of finding," Lamartiniere said. "I drink a glass a day every evening because I'm concerned about prostate cancer. It runs in my family."
Lamartiniere and other researchers say work is already underway to test resveratrol consumption in humans to see what concentrations are needed to convey cancer-prevention benefits.
The amounts used in the UAB mice studies were the equivalent of one person consuming one bottle of red wine per day, which is not advisable. Since drinking alcohol in excessive amounts can have harmful health effects, doctors generally recommend moderate red wine consumption, which is an average of two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
Lamartiniere's team included researchers from the UAB Department of Pathology and the Comprehensive Cancer Center. Funding support came from the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Cancer Institute.