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Researchers at the University of California, Irvine report that a beverage made with grape powder may offer some protection against colon cancer. The study follows an epidemiological study of 499 colon cancer patients and their consumption of wine. Red wine contains an antioxidant called resveratrol, which has had a positive effect in some animal studies. Resveratrol has extended survival rates of mice and has helped overcome some of the negative effects of a high-calorie diet. The earlier study had shown that red wine consumption may enhance survival in some colon cancer patients. It found that 75% of patients who drank red wine were alive 10 years after initial diagnosis compared to 47% of patients who did not drink wine.

This new research was presented at the Society for Integrative Oncology’s Fourth International Conference; Clinical Botanical Research: Session IV, November 16, 2007. Researchers gave colon cancer patients either a 20 mg. resveratrol pill each day, or a drink made with either 80 or 120 grams of grape powder in water. The resveratrol pill had no effect on colon cancer, but the lower dose of grape powder blocked a cellular signaling pathway, known as the Wnt pathway. Wnt proteins form a family of highly conserved secreted signaling molecules that regulate cell-to-cell interactions during embryogenesis. Wnt genes and Wnt signaling are also implicated in cancer. The higher dose of grape powder did not have this blocking effect.