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Health Watch: Alcohol in Moderation May Lower Risk of Depression for Women

Other studies find evidence that resveratrol can be a weapon against cancer

Jacob Gaffney
Posted: December 27, 2012

Responsible Female Drinkers Face Lower Risk of Depression

A recent study finds that Spanish women who drink wine or other alcoholic beverages in moderation experience depression in much smaller numbers than women who don't drink alcohol. Men who drank and women who drank more than one or two beverages a day did not enjoy a noticeable benefit.

The study, conducted mainly by researchers at the University of Navarra's Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health and published in BMC Public Health, followed up with 13,619 university graduates, both men and women, typically 38 years old, who had been originally recruited for a larger study conducted from 1999 to 2008. When the study began, all the participants were free of depression.

For women, moderate alcohol intake, equal to one or two glasses of wine per day, was associated with a 38 percent lower risk of depression. But the positive results were only recorded for women. The type of alcoholic beverage consumed did not appear to make a difference.

Scientists Continue Intense Focus on Resveratrol

The University of Leicester, in England, recently hosted an entire medical conference devoted to research on the chemical compound resveratrol, which is found in grape skins and red wine. Scientists presented 65 lectures about the compound and related research. Some highlights: Researchers claim resveratrol could potentially halve the rate of bowel cancer, and may also help prevent heart disease and diabetes.

"At the University of Leicester, we want to see how resveratrol might work to prevent cancer in humans," said conference organizer Karen Brown, Ph.D. "Having shown in our lab experiments that it can reduce tumor development, we are now concentrating on identifying the mechanisms of how resveratrol works in human cells."

Resveratrol Also Weakens Prostate Cancer

One recent study not presented at the Leicester conference has found that resveratrol may improve the ability of radiation to kill prostate cancer cells.

When the researchers exposed cancer cells to the red wine chemical prior to radiation treatment, the radiation was far more effective in killing off the cells. According to the study, published recently in the journal Cancer Science, the authors began the study because they feel medicine lacks safe and effective non-surgical prostate cancer treatments.

"In theory, either resveratrol can be given with a full dose of radiation to enhance tumor killing or with a lower dose of radiation to limit radiation side effects," said co-author Michael Nicholl, M.D., a University of Missouri assistant professor and a practicing oncologist at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.

While the research is encouraging, the results may not be exclusive to red wine chemicals. "Other natural compounds may have similar effects," Nicholl said. "For example, another group on our campus is reporting encouraging results in prostate cancer using a green tea extract."

Matilde Parente
Indian Wells, Calif. —  January 3, 2013 2:47pm ET
The prostate cancer information, in heavy rotation all around the web, comes from a study performed in a laboratory prostate cancer cell line and is at best, "preliminary." Although this article mentions that researchers "exposed cancer cells" to resveratrol, it is responsible to point out the very, very preliminary nature of this in vitro ("test tube") study, which has not been verified in animal models, no less in human clinical trials. Your subheadline, "Resveratrol also weakens prostate cancer" overstates the case.

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