A certain compound found in red wine, grapes and nuts is believed to have some miraculous properties. Resveratrol has got a lot of attention from health experts and scientists who have been studying the various health benefits associated with it, especially in treating cancer.
This compound is rich source of anti-oxidants and certain elements that are capable of destroying the energy source of cancerous cells. In simpler words, resveratrol has anti-cancer properties. A recent study published in the journal Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology has more to add to the same. Researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Centre have found that resveratrol may help prevent alcohol-related head and neck cancers.
"Alcohol harms your genes. Your body has ways to repair this damage, but with enough alcohol eventually some damage cannot fixed. That's why excessive alcohol use is a factor in head and neck cancer," said Robert Sclafani, from the University of Colorado Cancer Centre.
"Now, resveratrol challenges these cells - the ones with unrepaired DNA damage are killed, so they can't go on to cause cancer. Alcohol damages cells and resveratrol kills damaged cells. With enough alcohol, the body can get behind and end up with a backlog of acetyl aldehyde. Increased exposure to alcohol, loss of the ALDH gene that helps the body process alcohol, and loss of the ability to repair DNA cross links all result in increased cancer risk," Sclafani added.
The team explained that large intake of alcohol may lead to an increased production of acetyl aldehyde which may make a person susceptible to risks of head and neck cancer. Interestingly, people who consumed wine reported lesser incidents of cancer. According to the experts, resveratrol can eliminate the alcohol induced DNA damage in most cases.
"When you look at epidemiological studies of head and neck cancer, alcohol is a factor, but by alcohol source, the lowest cancer incidence is in people who drank red wine. In red wine, there's something that's blocking the cancer-causing effect of alcohol," said Sclafani. "The more you drink, the more you accumulate DNA damage, and the more chance that one or more cells will accumulate the specific type of DNA damage that can cause cancer. Now, resveratrol takes out the cells with the most damage - the cells that have the highest probability of being able to cause cancer," Sclafani said.
Sclafani concludes that resveratrol is not a magic bullet that can completely undo the cancer-causing effects of alcohol, but by killing the most dangerous cells it may decrease the probability of alcohol induced cancer.