Red wine could be key to fighting prostate cancer, as a compound found in grapes makes tumour cells more sensitive to treatment, scientists say.
Resveratrol, a compound found commonly in grape skins and red wine, has been shown to have several beneficial effects on human health, including on cardiovascular health and stroke prevention.
For the first time, researchers from the University of Missouri have discovered that it can make prostate tumour cells more susceptible to radiation treatment, increasing the chances of a full recovery from all types of prostate cancer, including aggressive tumours.
“Other studies have noted that resveratrol made tumour cells more susceptible to chemotherapy, and we wanted to see if it had the same effect for radiation therapy,” said Professor Michael Nicholl.
“We found that when exposed to the compound, the tumour cells were more susceptible to radiation treatment, but that the effect was greater than just treating with both compounds separately.”
Prostate tumour cells contain very low levels of two proteins, perforin and granzyme B, which can function together to kill cells. However, both need to be highly “expressed” to kill tumour cells.
In the study, when resveratrol was introduced into the prostate tumour cells, the activity of the two proteins increased greatly.
Following radiation treatment, up to 97 per cent of the tumour cells died, which is a much higher percentage than treatment with radiation alone, Prof Nicholl found.
Resveratrol is present in grape skins and red wine. However, the dosage needed to have an effect on tumour cells is so great that many people would experience uncomfortable side effects.