Viticulture, or the cultivation of grapevines, has a history of thousands of years and is closely linked with human society. Fresh or preserved, in juices or as wine, the grape is one of the most common fruits available and widely consumed around the world.
A recent study brought to light a surprising suggestion – resveratrol, a natural phenol found in grapes and wine, showed chemopreventive properties against lung cancer. The team of researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, studied this phenomenon during a 28 week-long trial.
While the compound is known to have some effect on cancers affecting the digestive tract, there was no previous data linking resveratrol and lung malignancy. Nevertheless, results of tests conducted on animals showed “a 45% decrease in tumor load per mouse in the treated mice”, as well a “fewer tumors and of smaller size than untreated mice“.
One of the biggest problems was finding a suitable way of dispensing the compound, and this is where they had to get creative. Normally, resveratrol does not appear to be suitable for preventing lung cancer. When ingested, it is metabolized and eliminated within minutes, so they had devise a different way of administration.
“Our challenge was to find a formulation in which resveratrol could be solubilized in large quantities, even though it is poorly soluble in water, in order to allow nasal administration. This formulation, applicable to humans, allows the compound to reach the lungs”.
Using this method, the team managed to reach doses 22 times higher than when taken orally.
The actual mechanism through which the compound provides its anticancer benefits is still unclear but seems to be related to apoptosis, the process of programmed cell death.
While the findings are significant, Muriel Cuendet, Associate Professor at UNIGE and study leader mentioned that “this discovery is unfortunately of little economic interest to pharmaceutical groups. The molecule is indeed simple and non-patentable and cancer prevention studies require a follow-up over many years“.
If you are interested in a healthy fruit that could also prevent cancer (or just want a tasty snack) then you should definitely have some grapes.