Polyphenols are commonly found in red wine, fruits, vegetables, and green tea. In a new study, French scientists describe how high and low doses of polyphenols have different effects. Most notably, they found that very high doses of antioxidant polyphenols shut down and prevent cancerous tumors by cutting off the formation of new blood vessels needed for tumor growth.
At relatively low doses, one glass of red wine per day or simply sticking to a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables containing polyphenols( a "Mediterranean" diet ), they play a beneficial role for those with diseased hearts and circulatory systems by facilitating blood vessel growth.
But the amount of polyphenols necessary to obtain an anti-cancer effect is the equivalent of drinking about a bottle of red wine each day. This amount of daily alcohol consumption obviously is unhealthy, but the research suggests that polyphenols extracted from plants or red wine could be converted into a pill that is highly likely to be safe. Such a pill also would be relatively easy and inexpensive to create and deliver.
"When it comes to finding treatments for complex diseases, the answers are sometimes right there waiting to be discovered in unexpected places like the produce aisles and wine racks of the nearest store,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “But it takes modern science to isolate the pure compound, test it in the lab, and to go on from there to find new agents to fight disease."
“The use of plant polyphenols as therapeutic tools presents important advantages,” said Daniel Henrion, senior author of the study, “because they have a good safety profile, a low cost and they can be obtained everywhere on the planet.”
- Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology