Scientist have found that a chemical found in red grapes, Resveratrol, may help prevent bowel cancer, and is more effective if given in smaller doses.
Results from bowel cancer-prone mice given the smaller dose showed a 50 per cent reduction in tumour size while the high dose showed a 25 per cent reduction. Lower doses of resveratrol were twice as effective as the higher dose in stopping tumours growing, although this effect was only seen in animals fed a high-fat diet.
The study is first to look at the effects of a lower daily dose – equivalent to the amount of resveratrol found in one large (approx. 250ml) glass of red wine – comparing it with a dose 200 times higher.
Samples of tumours from bowel cancer patients given different doses of resveratrol showed that even lower doses can get into cancer cells and potentially affect processes involved in tumour growth.
The study opens up new avenues for the role of purified resveratrol in preventing cancer, but suggests that it may only be effective for people with a specific genetic make-up, particular diets and lifestyles.
It also doesn’t mean that drinking red wine reduces cancer risk, as drinking alcohol increase the chances of developing the disease.
Karen Brown, professor of translational cancer research at the University of Leicester, said that this was an early laboratory research and the next stage is for clinical trials to confirm whether resveratrol has the same effects in people at high risk of bowel cancer.
The study is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.