Page last updated: Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Compounds in Beer and Wine Slow Breast Cancer Cell Growth
A new study has determined that certain compounds found in wine, beer and tea have contributed to a significant decrease in breast cancer cell proliferation. It is believed that alcohol affects the levels of  female hormones, especially for postmenopausal women whose bodies make less estrogen and progesterone than before they entered menopause. As a consequence, women’s breast cells may be exposed to higher levels of estrogen if alcohol is consumed. This may in turn trigger the cells, which are estrogen sensitive in such women, to become cancerous.

Phenolic phytochemicals are widely distributed in the plant kingdom. In various experiments, it has been shown that selected polyphenols, mainly flavonoids, confer protective effects on the cardiovascular system and have anticancer, antiviral and antiallergic properties. Flavonoids are low molecular weight compounds composed of a three-ring structure with various substitutions, which appear to be responsible for the antioxidant and antiproliferative properties.

Three researchers from the Universidade do Porto, Portugal set out to examine whether phenolic compounds could have properties that would be effective in fighting breast cancer. They investigated the effect of three phenolic compounds — epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), xanthohumol (XN) and resveratrol (RES) — substances present in significant concentrations in tea, beer and red wine, respectively, on the growth of a human breast cancer cell line, MCF-7.

The researchers concluded that all three polyphenolic compounds when present in the nutritive medium of a breast cancer cell line (MCF-7), were all able to reduce cell proliferation. These biochemical results add support and meaning to epidemiological studies that relate consumption of certain beverages with a lesser incidence and prevalence of cancer.

Source: Phenolic Compounds in the Control of Breast Cancer Cell Growth S. Pinheiro-Silva, I. Azevedo, and C.Calhau, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal

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