You've probably heard that the antioxidants found in certain foods and red wine can offer some protection from breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. According to new research set to appear in October's Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, we could soon be adding lung cancer symptoms to that list.
"An antioxidant component in red wine may help to prevent lung cancer, " according to lead researcher Chun Chao a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research and Evaluation. “The findings provide an impetus for further research to find out if there is something in red wine that may help to either prevent or treat lung cancer. "
Scientists believe that antioxidants, like those found in red wine and other foods, are somehow able to protect cells from oxidative damage that comes from free radicals and can strike any part of a cell, proteins, the membrane, even the DNA itself. Cellular damage caused by free radicals has been implicated in the development of cancer.
Researchers used the California Men's Health Study to identify 210 lung cancer patients from the 45 to 69 year old men who were members of a large, prepaid health plan in California. The researchers looked at cancer rates and consumption of red and white wine, beer and other liquor. They found that, on average, there was a 2% lower risk of lung cancer associated with each glass of red wine a subject drank per month. So. . . a man who drinks 30 glasses each month would lower his risk of lung cancer by 60%.
Of course, any smoker's risk of lung cancer is higher than a non smoker's risk. We all know that, right?
The team found the biggest effect on risk seemed to come to male smokers who drank one to two glasses of red wine per day. Makes you wonder if the red wine somehow. . . rises to the challenge of the toxic chemicals in the smoke?
You notice the emphasis on red wine? There are two reasons for this. . .
1. The study found no reduction in risk in men who drank the same amounts of white wine, beer or liquor. Only red wine had the effect.
2. Red wine uses the whole grape, seeds, skins and all, which keeps vital antioxidants known as polyphenols in the wine, in a form ready to be absorbed and used by the body.
Of course, many are quick to point out that one study doesn't prove that red wine has any protective effects. Sometimes early work like this, on further research, doesn't stand up. And the researchers themselves are quick to insist that this study doesn't mean smoking is something you should continue to do, or that red wine will protect a smoker from developing lung cancer.
"Clearly, we aren't recommending that smokers go out and start consuming large amounts of red wine as a potential protection from getting lung cancer, " says Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, “There are other research reports that show any alcohol, including red wine, can increase the risk of other cancers such as breast cancer. "
And of course you don't have to rely on red wine to increase your levels of anti-oxidants each day. Eating 5 - 9 portions of fruit and vegetables will mean you're giving your body the right kind of fuel to fight free radicals helping to minimize the risk of lung cancer symptoms.
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