Exactly Why Red Wine Helps Prevent Cancer

If you’re going to drink anything tonight, make it the red stuff! (Image via Whimsical Ramblings / Tumblr)

How many times has your grandmother said the secret to her ripe old age was never missing happy hour? While the key factors to longevity have been debated fiercely, grandma might be on to something.

New research is emerging proving red wine can in fact help to prevent cancer.

The debate over whether alcohol is good or bad for you is a never-ending saga with scientific studies coming out to support both.

While the argument may never be resolved, the University of Colorado Cancer Center completed a recent experiment, which shows that the chemical resveratrol found in grape skins and in red wine may prevent cancer.

“We focused on head and neck cancer and saw that alcohol bombards your genes. And if you consume high quantities of alcohol, eventually some damage isn’t fixed.” says Robert Sclafani, PhD, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the CU School of Medicine. “But, the alcohol that had the lowest effect on the body was red wine. So, the idea was that there must be something in the red wine that is counteracting the effect of the alcohol. And we’ve proven that it’s resveratrol.”

Resveratrol, found in grape skin, suppresses carcinogens in the body. 

In fact, the mice used in their experiment were given cancer, but when the researchers introduced the chemo-preventative compounds found in red wine into the mice’s systems the tumors shrank — and it prevented others from growing. The study proved that grape seed extract could block cancer in laboratory animals as well.

When you drink red wine you’re ingesting both of those substances — an anti-cancer double whammy.

Robert and his colleagues are hoping that giving concentrated doses of these substances to patients with a high likelihood of getting cancer will be a non-toxic alternative to traditional treatments such as chemotherapy. “Being able to counteract the pre-cancerous cells with a mild medicine would be a great alternative in treating these high-risk patients,” he told Yahoo Health. “Those who are dealing with head and neck cancer in particular often face major surgery that alters their physical appearance. Using this method would hopefully help reduce the tumors that would need to be removed.”

What does this all mean for you and me? It all boils down to one thing: moderation.

“There’s not enough alcohol in a glass or two of red wine a day to really harm you, but there are benefits as we’ve proved,” adds Robert. “Moderation is key.”

The advantages are purely from the consumption of red wine. Scotch, vodka and even white wine do not have these positive effects as they do not contain resveratrol.

And while you may think taking a massive daily supplement of resveratrol would do the trick in preventing you from getting cancer, Robert says there’s been no proof that it helps.

Instead, he explains you can get your resveratrol from dietary sources besides red wine. “Eat a lot of Thai food,” he says. “Peanuts are actually very high in resveratrol and have similar benefits to red wine. But, again they need to be eaten in moderation.”

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