June 09, 2010
Polyphenols Cut Cancer Risk In Mice

Scientists are busy trying to improve the wretched lives of mice.

In what could lead to a major advance in the treatment of prostate cancer, scientists now know exactly why polyphenols in red wine and green tea inhibit cancer growth. This new discovery, published online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org), explains how antioxidants in red wine and green tea produce a combined effect to disrupt an important cell signaling pathway necessary for prostate cancer growth. This finding is important because it may lead to the development of drugs that could stop or slow cancer progression, or improve current treatments.

But we most want to know whether eating foods high in polyphenols or other compounds will reduce our risk of developing cancer or other diseases. The evidence on this question is less clear.

Keep in mind that cell signaling pathways exist because they serve useful functions. Chemicals from food that disrupt cellular pathways probably have downsides in addition to whatever protective properties they have.

"Not only does SphK1/S1P signaling pathway play a role in prostate cancer, but it also plays a role in other cancers, such as colon cancer, breast cancer, and gastric cancers," said Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. "Even if future studies show that drinking red wine and green tea isn't as effective in humans as we hope, knowing that the compounds in those drinks disrupts this pathway is an important step toward developing drugs that hit the same target."

While less lucky mice were out struggling for survival these mice were getting fed chemicals that reduced their risk of cancer. On the other hand, these mice were bred to get cancer in the first place.

Scientists conducted in vitro experiments which showed that the inhibition of the sphingosine kinase-1/sphingosine 1-phosphate (SphK1/S1P) pathway was essential for green tea and wine polyphenols to kill prostate cancer cells. Next, mice genetically altered to develop a human prostate cancer tumor were either treated or not treated with green tea and wine polyphenols. The treated mice showed reduced tumor growth as a result of the inhibited SphK1/S1P pathway. To mimic the preventive effects of polyphenols, another experiment used three groups of mice given drinking water, drinking water with a green tea compound known as EGCg, or drinking water with a different green tea compound, polyphenon E. Human prostate cancer cells were implanted in the mice and results showed a dramatic decrease in tumor size in the mice drinking the EGCg or polyphenon E mixtures.

All the berries have polyphenols in them. So wine and green tea aren't your only food choices for potentially cutting cancer risks.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 June 09 10:29 PM  Aging Diet Cancer Studies

Jake said at June 10, 2010 12:58 AM:

Another polyphenol which may be even more effective is that contained in unprocessed cacao.

Lou Pagnucco said at June 10, 2010 8:12 AM:

The article abstract indicates that the wine polyphenols are "vineatrol" which is derived from grape vine shoots.
See - http://vineatrol.com/ for a more complete description.

I'd like to know whether the anti-cancer effects are due to inhibition of mTOR and NF-kappab pathways which are targets of several anti-cancer drugs. I believe EGCg and vineatrol suppress both pathways.

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