How much red wine does it take to reduce bowel cancer risk?

More good news for those who appreciate a glass of good red. A British study has found that “miracle” ingredient resveratrol has protective effects against one of Australia’s most common cancers.

We recently reported that resveratrol has the ability to transform “bad fat” into “good fat” in the body and could be a weapon in the fight against obesity.

That same compound, which is what gives red wine grapeskins their colour, has now been shown to have a positive effect on bowel cancer in animal trials. But what makes the study more exciting is the lose dose at which resveratrol appears to work.

The new study, by Karen Brown, professor of translational cancer research at the University of Leicester, focused on smaller doses of resveratrol rather than larger doses, which have been used in past studies.

The researchers tested the amount of resveratrol found in about one glass of wine on mice that were susceptible to bowel cancer, then compared it to the effects of doses 200 times higher. The mice given the smaller dose had a 50 percent reduction in tumour size compared to those given the bigger dose (who had about a 25 percent reduction in tumour size).

Ad. Article continues below.

Interestingly, however, this big gap was only seen in mice who were fed a high-fat diet.

“For the first time, we’re seeing that less resveratrol is more,” says Professor Brown. “This study shows that low amounts may be better at preventing tumours than taking a high dose. The same might be true for other plant-derived chemicals and vitamins that are also being studied for cancer prevention”.

The authors conclude that while resveratrol might indeed have cancer-fighting properties, it might only work for people with specific genes, lifestyles, and diets. In addition, the results in mice still need to be replicated to humans.

So should you drink more wine to protect against cancer? The answer to that is definitely “no”. Excessive alcohol consumption has far stronger links to causing cancer than drinking it has to preventing it.

But this research does reinforce what we know: if you enjoy good quality red wine in moderation, you can say cheers to good health.

Are you a red wine drinker? What’s your favourite grape variety?