Does red wine protect against heart disease?

Maybe, says Gloria Tsang, RD.  Many studies investigating the benefits of red wine suggest that a moderate amount of red wine (one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men) lowers the risk of heart attack for people in middle age by 30 to 50 percent. It is also suggested that red wine may prevent additional heart attacks if you have already suffered from one. Other studies also indicated that red wine can raise HDL cholesterol (the Good cholesterol) and prevent LDL cholesterol (the Bad cholesterol) from forming. Red wine may help prevent blood clots and reduce the blood vessel damage caused by fat deposits.


Antioxidant in Red Wine Kills Cancer Cells

Good news for lovers of red wine - researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that the pigmentation chemical in grapes that gives red wine and grape skins their color kills human cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact. The compound, an antioxidant that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables, is a type of anthocyanidin, an antioxidant common in plants.

Scientists knew that anthocyanidins had cancer-fighting properties and decided to focus on one of the most common types, cyanidin-3-rutinoside (C-3-R). Although it is abundant in red wine, scientists used C-3-R purified from black raspberries and tested it on several lines of human leukemia cells. They repeated the test using human lymphoma cells.

At low doses of C-3-R, half of the cancer cells in all lines died within 18 hours. When the dose was more than doubled, all of the cancer cells died within 18 hours. Researchers repeated the experiment several times using different types of leukemia cells and got similar results.  But when C-3-R was used on normal human blood cells, there appeared to be no toxic effects.

"Common treatments for leukemia, such as chemotherapy and radiation, often damage healthy cells and tissues and can produce unwanted side effects for many years afterward," said Dr. Xiao-Ming Yin, an associate professor of pathology at the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine. "So there is an intensive search for more targeted therapies for leukemia worldwide. If we can reproduce these anticancer effects in animal studies," Yin said, "this will present a very promising approach for treating a variety of human leukemias and, perhaps, lymphomas as well."