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How Antioxidants May Work

December 2007 - Research published in The FASEB Journal found that very high doses of antioxidant polyphenols (commonly found in red wine, fruits, vegetables, and green tea) shut down and prevented cancerous tumors by inhibiting new blood vessel formation. Conversely, at relatively low doses they play a beneficial role in cardiac and circulatory diseases by facilitating blood vessel growth. The amount necessary to achieve the latter effect was found to be the equivalent of one glass of red wine per day or sticking to a healthy "Mediterranean" diet.

Researchers explain that this study adds to a growing body of research showing dose-dependent relationships for many commonly-used compounds. For example, a recent study published in The FASEB Journal showed that aspirin, through different mechanisms, also demonstrated a dose-dependent relationship for heart disease and cancer.

Dr Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal said:

"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. 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 report suggests that the amount of polyphenols necessary to obtain an anti-cancer effect would be the equivalent of drinking about a bottle of red wine each day. While this amount obviously is unhealthy, it is thought that polyphenols extracted from plants or red wine readily could be converted into safe, inexpensive medication.

Lead author Daniel Henrion commented:

"The use of plant polyphenols as therapeutic tools presents important advantages because they have a good safety profile, a low cost and they can be obtained everywhere on the planet."

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