Friday, August 14, 2009

Wine Shows Protection for Cancer Radiation Therapy

There's been a lot written about the benefits of drinking red wine. Recently, a new scientific study came out of Italy that is fascinating, because it shows how drinking wine while undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer may reduce the incidence of skin toxicity in these patients. This work was recently published in the August issue of the official journal of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

Radiation therapy-induced side effects, as anyone who has undergone radiation knows, are a nightmare. Reducing or eliminating them is an important part of a patient’s cancer treatment management. While there are currently several medications available to help protect healthy organs from the effects of radiation, they are often expensive. Even worse, they have side effects of their own.

Researchers at the Department of Oncology at Catholic University in Campobasso and in Rome, Italy, working with the Italian National Research Council, conducted this study to determine if the natural antioxidants in wine would provide a protective effect in preventing acute skin toxicity in patients undergoing radiation therapy after conservative surgery for breast carcinoma.

The study consisted of 348 patients divided into three groups based on the dose/fractionation scheme used. Patients consuming wine had a lower incidence of Grade 2 or higher acute toxicity than those who did not consume alcohol. Patients who drank just one glass of wine per day had a 13.6 percent incidence of skin toxicity versus a 38.4 percent incidence in patients who did not drink wine.

“If wine can prevent radiotherapy-induced toxicity without affecting antitumor efficacy, as we observed, it also has the potential to enhance the therapeutic benefit in cancer patients without increasing their risk of serious adverse effects,” said Vincenzo Valentini, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Catholic University in Rome, Italy. “The possibility that particular dietary practices or interventions can reduce radiation-induced toxicity is very intriguing.”


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