Research presented at the October 2006 71st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Las Vegas found that drinking 3 glasses of red wine per week can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 68%. It is believed that the resveratrol content in the red wine is the active component impacting this risk.
Dr. Joseph Anderson and his colleagues from the Stony Brook University conducted the study on 360 red and white wine drinkers with similar lifestyles and found that the red wine drinkers had a 68% lower chance of colorectal cancer than the white wine drinkers. Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound in grape skins that helps the grapes resist fungus.
Based on the results of this study, researchers suspect the high content of the compound resveratrol in red wine plays a key role. Resveratrol is an anti-fungal chemical that occurs naturally under the skin of red wine grapes.
Researchers examined the prevalence of colorectal neoplasia. They found that red wine dramatically reduced the risk of colorectal neoplasia (colon cancer) by 68 percent but white wine did not. The resveratrol content of wine is related to the length of time the grape skins are present during the fermentation process.
“The concentration is significantly higher in red wine than in white wine, because the skins are removed earlier during white-wine production, lessening the amount that is extracted,” explained Joseph C. Anderson, M.D.
Dr. Anderson says a healthy lifestyle is essential in cutting the risk of colorectal neoplasia, and he does not advocate drinking red wine if you do not drink currently.
Although alcohol consumption increases the risk for colorectal neoplasia, researchers say this study suggests resveratrol in red wine may have a protective effect. Further, studies suggest that resveratrol may exert chemopreventive properties on colon cancer cells.
Anderson, J. (2006). 71st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, Las Vegas, Nev. Oct 2006