Study: Red Wine Might Help Mesothelioma Patients

Bottle and glass of red wine with grapes in foreground

Patients won’t need much convincing to give this treatment strategy a try.

A daily glass of red wine, which for decades was recommended to help slow cardiovascular disease, might help stave off the progression of mesothelioma, according to a recent study from Korea.

Although red wine has been studied in previous cancer research, with mixed results, this was the first time it was done with mesothelioma specifically, based on a report last month in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine.

Researchers found that the organic compound Resveratrol, which is derived from the skin of red grapes and found in red wine, helped kill some malignant cells. Certain mesothelioma cell viability was decreased, and other cell death was increased when Resveratrol interacted with a specific protein known at Sp1.

“Our results strongly suggest that Sp1 is a novel molecular target of Res (Resvertrol) in human malignant pleural mesothelioma,” reported the study.

Although it’s too early to know how effective the red wine would be, researchers believed that it worked effectively to suppress tumor growth in laboratory mice that were used as part of the study.

Mesothelioma is the cancer that is caused by an exposure to asbestos fibers, and is not typically diagnosed until its later stages, which usually makes for a grim prognosis.

Novel, previously  untested strategies, are not uncommon with mesothelioma, which has no cure. It is typically treated with some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but with mixed results. The earlier the diagnosis, the more effective the treatments have been.

Complimentary and alternative treatment options have been receiving considerable attention lately. Many patients try both conventional and non-conventional treatments in their quest to stave off the disease. Some doctors even encourage patients to explore alternative options, particularly if the side effects are minimal.

There are a variety of natural medicines that include plant extracts, amino acids, minerals, teas and vitamins. Most are not FDA approved,  nor clinically tested, with little scientific proof that they work.

Wayne Neal of Cincinnati is convinced that he has survived more than 20 years with mesothelioma because of a daily diet that includes red tart cherries, which are loaded with antioxidants like melatonin. Others believe just a diet of whole grain foods and plenty of vegetables will work.

Mesothelioma is diagnosed in approximately 3,000 Americans annually. Although the use of asbestos has been dramatically reduced in recent decades, it remains in many residential and commercials structures that were built before 1980.

Still developing countries like Korea, where this latest study was done, are experiencing higher rates of mesothelioma because the use of asbestos is not as well regulated.

Because of a long latency period (10 to 50 years from time of initial exposure to diagnosis) mesothelioma is expected to peak in this country by the end of the decade. Korea, though, is not expecting a peak for another 20 years.


Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His most recent experience is in researching and writing about asbestos litigation issues and asbestos-related conditions like mesothelioma. If you have a story idea for Tim, please email him at tpovtak@asbestos.com

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