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New Research Suggests Ingredient in Red Wine Can Help Fight Mesothelioma

by Nancy Meredith

Americans have long envied the longevity of Europeans along the Mediterranean Sea.  Their good health has been attributed to their healthy lifestyle and their diet, known as the Mediterranean diet, of fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, nuts and an occasional indulgence in a glass of red wine.  While mesothelioma patients have long been encouraged to follow a healthy diet and to get light exercise while battling the disease, doctors have shied away from suggesting a glass of wine with their dinner. 

Now, new research suggests that one aspect of the Mediterranean diet – red wine – may benefit patients diagnosed with mesothelioma.  Researchers in Korea found that resveratrol, an ingredient found in the skin of red grapes, induces apoptosis in some malignant mesothelioma cells causing them to die. 

Mesothelioma is notoriously difficult to treat and is resistant to many cancer treatments.  One reason that pleural mesothelioma, a pulmonary cancer caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust, is difficult to treat is that regardless of the therapy used the cancer almost always recurs locally. The resistance of mesothelioma to treatment is due to its apoptotic defect, which prevents the medicines from killing the cancer cells allowing them to continue to grow and divide.    

Resveratrol Kills Mesothelioma Cancer Cells
However, Korean medical scientists at Soonchunhyang University found that resveratrol suppressed the levels of a protein called Sp1 and caused the death of cancer cells in laboratory mice that had malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Sp1, which is also known as specificity protein 1, appears to play a key role in tumor development in some cancers. The scientists said injecting the mice with resveratrol effectively suppressed the growth of mesothelioma tumors by inhibiting the protein.

The findings led the researchers to conclude, “that therapeutic and chemopreventative effects of resveratrol, by targeting Sp1, lead to the prevention of malignant pleural mesothelioma.”

Plants Beneficial for Cancer Prevention
The researchers noted that for years, scientists and physicians have been searching for cancer prevention benefits of fruits and vegetables and for their uses as a weapon in the fight against cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, following a Mediterranean diet has been associated with “a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality, a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer mortality, and a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.” 

Mesothelioma patients can follow the basic concept of the Mediterranean diet, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, for preparing healthy, satisfying meals:

  • Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Drinking red wine in moderation (optional) – please discuss any alcohol consumption with your physician

Mesothelioma has an extended incubation period and it typically takes 20 years to 40 years before sufferers notice symptoms.  Close to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year.  According to the Ministry of Environment, mesothelioma cases continue to increase in Korea with the peak year for malignant mesothelioma expected to be in 2045.

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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 4 years. Follow Nancy on Google+

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