Why Red Wine, Green Tea Stop Prostate Cancer
Scientists have discovered why red wine and green tea can stop the growth of prostate cancer. Results of a new study explain that the antioxidants in these two beverages can disrupt a specific signaling process that is required for prostate cancer to grow.
Green tea and its major antioxidant, a polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) have been studied extensively as a possible treatment for various diseases, including prostate cancer. Similarly, the polyphenols in red wine, including resveratrol, have been investigated for their cancer-fighting potential. Despite promising results, scientists were unable to identify the reason why these polyphenols had a positive impact on cancer growth.
The answer appears to lie in a signaling pathway called sphingosine kinase-1/sphingosine 1-phosphate (SphK1/S1P). In the new study, which involved scientists from both France and Japan, it was found that “Not only does SphK1/S1P signaling pathway play a role in prostate cancer, but it also plays a role in other cancers,” according to Gerald Weissman, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, which published the study.
The scientists first conducted in vitro experiments which indicated that inhibiting the SphK1/S1P pathway was necessary for the polyphenols to kill prostate cancer cells. They then used mice that had been genetically altered to develop human prostate cancer and treated some of the animals with green tea and red wine polyphenols. Tumor growth in the treated mice was reduced because of the inhibited SphK1/S1P pathway.
The scientists then conducted yet another experiment in which they used three groups of mice that had human prostate cancer cells implanted into them: one received regular water, another water with green tea polyphenol EGCG, and the third with another green tea compound, polyphenon E. Tumor size in the mice that drank either the EGCG or polyphenon E water decreased in size dramatically.
Weissman noted that even if future studies do not show that green tea and red wine are as effective as many people hope they will be, knowing why their polyphenols have the potential to stop prostate cancer could result in the development of drugs that could significantly improve treatment the disease, and others. In moderation, he said that “all signs show that red wine and green tea may be ranked among the most potent ‘health foods’ we know.”
Brizuela L et al. FASEB Journal 2010 Jun 3