In the fight against some cancers, the grape may be a surprising ally
For years, scientists, doctors and wine fans have debated the idea that red wine can help reduce the risk of heart disease. The jury is still out on that claim, but research being done at City of Hope is revealing that grapes and grape products may help fight certain kinds of cancer.
Researchers in City of Hope’s departments of Cancer Biology and Molecular Medicine have been studying grape seed extract and found that it blocks the body’s production of vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF.
VEGF is an important protein that helps new blood vessels grow and is often found in cancer tumors, which needs the new vessels to fuel their uncontrolled growth.
Blocking VEGF, in turn, could strangle those tumors by keeping them from getting the blood and oxygen they need. It is a strategy that has already proven effective against colorectal and kidney tumors.
Additional City of Hope research has indicated grape seed extract can lower estrogen levels. Estrogen plays a major role in the development of breast cancer.
Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., leads the City of Hope team that uncovered a connection between grapes and estrogen. In 2003, he and his colleagues published research identifying certain compounds in red wine that can limit estrogen production.
Promising as all these results are, none of our scientists’ findings suggest that drinking wine or taking grape seed extract as a nutritional supplement is a tool for preventing cancer. Further research is needed to show its potential in treating or preventing cancers in humans.