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.