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Top 10 red wine health claims

This week a study claimed that the health benefits of resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, could have been grossly overhyped, despite scientists from across the world repeatedly hailing its benefits.

Red wine is known to be rich in resveratrol – an antioxidant present in red grape skins – which has been credited for protecting against everything from obesity to heart disease.

However a recent study of 800 villagers from the Chianti region of Italy threatens to debunk the commonly held conception that drinking red wine in moderation is good for you calling the benefits of resveratrol a “myth”.

The study, which was carried out over a 16 year period by scientists from the Josh Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, found no link between a diet rich in resveratrol and the development of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or living a longer life.

Despite these most recent findings, dozens of scientists from separate studies throughout the world have long claimed the wide-reaching benefits of the red wine compound.

Scroll through to see some of the most recent red wine health claim headlines…

10. Red wine found to stop lung cancer growth

Earlier this year scientists in Canada claimed that drinking wine could help stop lung cancer growth.

Scientists from Brock University and McMaster University in Ontario, found that both red and white wines halted the spread of lung cancer, but that reds were more effective.

Researchers measured red and white wines’ impact on non small-cell carcinoma lung cancer cells by exposing samples of lung cancer cells to Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Riesling sourced from producers in Ontario.

Red wine effectively stopped the spread of cancer cells at 2% concentration, while similar results didn’t happen for white wine until 5% concentration.


9. Red wine improves heart health in pigs

In 2012 scientists in New York suggested that pigs that drank red wine have better blood flow to the heart than those that drink vodka. 

The study, conducted by Frank Sellke M.D, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Rhode Island Hospital, looked into the effects of red wine and vodka on pigs with high cholesterol.

Three groups of pigs that had been fed a high-fat diet were studied. The first group continued on the diet, while the second was supplemented with a daily dose of red wine, and the third with a daily dose of vodka.

After seven weeks, the pigs that had been given wine or vodka had significantly increased blood flow to the heart, with the red wine having the larger cardiovascular benefit.

The study, published in the journal Circulation, shed new light on the processes by which moderate alcohol intake might reduce cardiovascular risk, however no studies have been undertaken to determine if the beneficial effects would be mirrored in humans.

8. Red wine and aspirin could kill cancer cells

A combination of resveratrol and aspirin was credited with having the potential to kill abnormal cells that lead to cancer by scientists from the Gustave Roussy Institute in Villejuif in France this year.

There study claimed that both the wine extract resveratrol and aspirin could help to destroy “tetraploid” cells that contain multiple copies of chromosomes which cause genetic instability and have been linked to the development of cancer.

In tests, laboratory mice genetically engineered to have bowel cancer had fewer tetraploid cells in their guts when fed the wine compound and painkiller.

Exposure to the two substances also reduced the survival of tetraploid cells in human bowel cancer tumour cultures.

The research was published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

7. Red wine chemical an alternative to chemotherapy

Scientists in China said in March that administering resveratrol to cancer patients could slow cancer growth without the “toxicity and irritation” of chemotherapy and improve surgical outcomes for bladder cancer.

In laboratory tests, cancerous human cells were exposed to different concentrations of Resveratrol for 1 or 2 hours to mimic “intravesical therapy”, a procedure delivering a drug solution into the bladder through a urethral catheter, which scientists said triggered the destruction of malignant cells without affecting healthy cells.

Research led by scientists at the Dalian Medical University in China suggested that resveratrol may one day allow diabetics and other bladder cancer patients to avoid the “strong systemic toxicity and local irritation” of chemotherapy.

6. Red wine could improve balance in seniors

Back in 2012, scientists from the University in Pittsburgh said that resveratrol could improve balance and mobility in seniors, and could lead to the development of natural products to help protect elderly people against falls.

Researchers fed mice a diet containing resveratrol for eight weeks, during which time they were measured on their ability to navigate a steel mesh balance beam.

In the beginning, the elderly mice had difficulty, but after four weeks they made fewer mistakes and had similar balance to the younger mice.

5. Scientists develop red wine wonder pill

Scientists heralded the arrival of a so-called “wonder pill’ which would harness the health-boosting benefits of red wine in 2013 following a study which claimed to have found “conclusive evidence” that the red wine compound resveratrol directly activates a protein that promotes health and longevity in animals.

While red wine contains low concentrations of resveratrol, pharmaceutical compounds similar to it may be able to treat and prevent diseases related to ageing.

David Sinclair, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, said at the time that “instead of drinking 100 glasses of wine a day, you could just take a pill”, claiming that a pill containing 100 times the potency of resveratrol could be commercially available in five years.

4. Wine medicine could prevent loss of limbs

In March a pharmaceutical company announced it had successfully extracted resveratrol and turned it into a medicine which could help prevent loss of limbs in diabetes sufferers.

Scientists said the compound had to be administered in isolation from red wine to prevent it from losing its “metabolic activity”, which is why its development has been hampered.

Lycotec, based in Cambridge, said it had developed an oral medicine, LycosomeTM, which laboratory tests have shown has the potential to prevent and treat numerous diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular pathologies and cancer.

The study showed that daily administration of 50 mg twice a day of t-RSV-LycosomeTM, on top of regular care and general diabetes treatment, resulted in a 95% closure of the ulcer in a diabetic patient, which untreated would lead to the loss of the limb.

The study, based on 24 patients, was the first of its kind and led by Dr Yuriy Bashmakov, the results of which have now been published in the Journal of Endocrinology.

3. Red wine could help in fight against prostate cancer

The benefits of resveratrol extended to the treatment of prostate cancer in 2012 with scientists suggesting that the compound could make prostate tumour cells more susceptible to radiation therapy.

Researchers from the University of Missouri found, for the first time, that resveratrol makes prostate tumour cells more susceptible to radiation treatment, but noted that the dosage needed to have an effect is so high that most people would experience uncomfortable side effects.

The team said the next stage would be animal testing before clinical trials can begin and that it was an extremely “exciting development.”

2. Study finds red wine boosts immune system

Earlier this year a study carried out by the University of Texas showed that resveratrol, found in grapes, peanuts and berries, can ease the effects on the immune system caused by a high fat diet.

The study showed that mice who were given a high fat diet and doses of resveratrol gained less body weight than those given no resveratrol.

Published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, the findings suggest that resveratrol can protect against weight gain and counteract its impact on the immune system.

1. Beauty industry looking to the wine world

Only this month it was reported that an increasing number of skincare brands were turning to resveratrol found in grapes and incorporating them into their anti-ageing beauty products.

A number of beauty brands have been flying the flag for resveratrol including While Caudalie, founded by Mathide Thomas, daughter of Daniel and Florence Cathiard, owners of Château Smith Haut Lafitte in Bordeaux, which has been producing grape-based beauty products since 1995 via its Vino-thérapie spas.

Resveratrol is thought to slow the ageing process by promoting tissue elasticity and firmness.

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