Red wine compound shows promising results in lung cancer prevention: study

SAN DIEGO – New research shows a compound found in red wine can help fight lung cancer cells and prevent tumors, but it’ll take more than just drinking it.

Resveratrol is the plant compound that has received attention as a point to red wine benefits. It acts as an antioxidant and can be found in grapes, peanuts, and some berries. It is mostly concentrated in the skin and seeds of grapes — parts that are involved in the fermentation of wine, giving it such a high quantity of the compound.

The study by scientists at the University of Geneva found when the compound was given to at-risk mice the cancerous cells were reduced by 45 percent.

Scientists warn that large amounts of red wine will not actually protect people from cancer, because resveratrol only gets to the lungs when it is inhaled through the nose. When it is taken as a tablet, it gets broken down before it is able to reach your lungs.

“This is why our challenge was to find a formulation in which resveratrol could be solubilized in large quantities, even though it is poorly soluble in water, in order to allow nasal administration,” lead author Aymeric Monteillier said. “This formulation, applicable to humans, allows the compound to reach the lungs.”

The mice in the study were exposed to a cancer-causing chemical in cigarette smoke and resveratrol helped their disease from developing. The mice were split with some receiving treatment, and others going without – regardless if they were diseased or not.

The diseased mice that did get resveratrol received treatment over the course of 26 weeks, according to the study. It was given to them by being inhaled through their noses. They had fewer and small tumors than the untreated group. The compound kills tumors through apoptosis, which triggers the cells to attack themselves.

However, 37 percent of the mice that did not have the disease but continued to receive the resveratrol treatment ultimately developed the disease.

These scientists are planning preventative treatment using resveratrol. It is already being used in food supplements, so safety studies would not be required.

“This discovery is unfortunately of little economic interest to pharmaceutical groups,” Professor Muriel Cuendet said. “The molecule is indeed simple and non-patentable and cancer prevention studies require a follow-up over many years.”