Friday, May 29, 2009

four more smart reasons to drink wine

33. Wine polyphenols appear to have some benefit in treating and possible preventing the onset of Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurological disorder. although resveratrol has been extensively studied in this regard, the most recent paper found benefits from a combination of resveratrol and quercetin.
34. Another neurological disorder call Huntington's chorea may also respond to resveratrol according to some laboratory studies.
35. Cells in the memory center of the brain, called the hippocampus, are sensitive to the detrimental effects of alcohol. However, wine polyphenols are protective, canceling out the bad effects. All the more reason to choose wine if you drink.
36. Enzymes called "AMP kinases" which are active in the memory and leaqrning centers of the brain are stimulated by resveratrol.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A sigh of relief: Wine and lung health

The next three items in the list of 101 healthy reasons to drink wine involve the lungs.
30. Several studies have found specific activity of red wine polyphenols against lung cancers of different types. Of course there are other important things such as not smoking that you can do to reduce risk.
31. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is marked by inflammation of the lungs in addition to other problems. Wine's potent polyphenol antioxidants are being investigated as therapeutic agants for COPD and indications are that it could be very helpful. One specific way they work is by preventing the release of the chemical mediators of inflammation called cytokines.
32. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common cause of respiratory infections. Wine polyphenols have been shown to interrupt the process by which the virus enters lung cells, and so could thereby help prevent CMV infections.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Two more healthy reasons to drink wine

These next two items deal with kidney health, an unglamorous but important topic. If your kidneys aren't happy, you won't be either.
28. Several studies have analyzed the relationship of drinking to risk of kidney (renal) cancer. A pooled analysis indicates that wine drinking offers a measurable benefit in reducing the risk.
29. Diabetes causes a disease of the kidneys called diabetic nephropathy. Wine drinking and diets high in polyphenols (the antioxidants from wine and berries) are associated with a slowing of disease progression in diabetics.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The eyes have it: 3 more reasons

For this next section, I was reviewing the effects of wine on the eye. One of the groups working on these issues is from the “Department of Wine, Food and Molecular Biosciences” at Lincoln University in New Zealand. The fact that such a department exists seems reason enough to celebrate! Here are my insights on wine and vision:
25. A group from Tufts University evaluated the relationship of drinking patterns to development of cataracts. They found that the risk of cataracts was increased with alcohol consumption generally, but decreased by 12% for every two glasses of wine consumed per week.
26. Early experimental evidence points to a possible role of wine polyphenols and other antioxidants in the treatment and prevention of glaucoma.

27. A 2006 study found a possible protective effect of wine consumption and age-related macular degeneration, one of the most onerous causes of visual impairment. The study found increased risk with alcohol consumption in the form of beer or spirits, but a protective effect with wine consumption. A separate study identified resveratrol as a likely mediator of this benefit by reducing oxidative stress in the retina.

Friday, May 8, 2009

13-24 of the 101 reasons to drink wine: Anti-cancer properties

13. In order to understand how wine helps prevent cancer, we look at what happens inside of a cell as it takes the first steps toward becoming a cancer and converts from a healthy, productive cell to one out of control. Cancer researchers define three steps in this process, the first of which is called initiation. This includes the mutations in DNA that disrupt the cell's programming. Wine polyphenols protect against these mutations.
14. Carcinogens do their damage by causing mutations. Most of them need to be activated, that is they are converted from a less harmful state by enzymes that normally serve more noble purposes. Wine compounds help prevent carcinogen activation.
15. The second phase of a cell's journey to the dark side is called promotion. These are all of the things that encourage the cell to follow its baser instincts. One of these factors is the enzyme COX-2, which is inhibited by wine-derived compounds.
16. Another aspect of promotion is the ability to bypass a cell's auto-distruct mechanism. Cells typically know when they are to shut down, a process called apoptosis. (For example, the dead skin cells that form a surface barrier have undergone apoptosis, while new ones are continually being made underneath.) Wine compounds have been shown to activate apoptosis pathways in cancer cells.
17. One of the ways that cells know whether or not their time is up is by the presence of anti-apoptotic proteins. Wine helps ramp down levels of these molecules, so that cancer cells lack the necessary encouragement to keep going.
18. A similar process is what are called "activation pathways" which are molecular signals that spur a cell to keep growing and reproducing. Cancer cells have turned up these activation pathways, while wine polyphenols have been shown to counter the effect.
19. After promotion comes progression. This is where things really start getting out of control and the cancer becomes invasive. Growth factor molecules within and between the cells encourage this sort of behavior. Wine polyphenols appear to have the opposite effect.
20. Cancer cells have to develop specific skills in order to invade adjacent tissues. Wine polyphenols have been found to have their own skill set to protect against this.
21. Cancer cells of course have to grow in addition to all of their other misbehaviors. Wine polyphenols have been found in laboratory studies to directly suppress cancer cell growth. Clinical trials are underway to evaluate their role in cancer treatment.
22. As the tumor enlarges, it needs a growing blood supply which in turn requires that new blood vessels form. Certain specific signals facilitate this process (called angiogenesis). Wine polyphenols inhibit the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.
23. Wine polyphenols have some interesting possibilities in treating established cancers. Certain chemotherapy drugs appear to be more effective and with fewer side effects when given with wine polyphenols. This is another area of clinical research.
24. Radiation therapy is another mixed blesssing for cancer patients. The effects on the normal tissues around a tumor can be problematic. Resveratrol, from wine, may have the ability to both enhace the effectiveness of radiation treatments while ameliorating the side-effects.