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Health Benefits and Risks of Drinking Wine for Mesothelioma Patients

The benefits and risks of alcohol consumption have been hotly debated for years. However when debating the connection between drinking and cancer, the discussion gets even livelier. There is evidence indicating wine can have positive health benefits and negative health consequences. Some studies show an increased risk of cancer. Others show compounds in red wine may help make chemotherapy treatments more effective in patients with mesothelioma.

If you are living with mesothelioma, discuss drinking wine with your medical team. If you have never been a wine drinker, positive evidence is not strong enough to warrant starting. On the other hand, if you enjoy an occasional glass of wine, you may want to consider weighing the potential risks against actual positive benefits.

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Health Benefits of Drinking Wine

One of the most well studied benefits of moderate wine intake is heart health. Research evidence connects moderate drinking of red wine with lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. The compound that is suspected ti of confer this benefit is called reservatrol. Reservatrol is found in the skins of red grapes. Studies indicate red wine may help improve heart health by raising levels of HDL, or healthy cholesterol, reducing the risk of blood clots. Consmuming red wine also helps prevent artery damage caused by LDL, or bad cholesterol.

Other compounds found in red wine that may provide health benefits are quercetin and catechin. These compounds are polyphenols and may act as antioxidants in the body. This means they prevent the formation of dangerous free radicals that can cause cell damage. These substances may also have anti-inflammatory properties. Several studies have been conducted with these compounds, but not many in humans. In cell cultures, polyphenols have been shown to extend lifespans, prevent or treat neurodegenerative diseases, and even inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Health Risks of Drinking Wine

Wine, like any type of alcoholic drink, contains ethanol, which is toxic to human cells. Drinking alcohol may actually have a negative impact on your health, although most risks apply to drinking in excess. Excessive drinking is defined as consuming more than one drink per day for women and more than two per day for men. Excessive drinking is linked to accidents, injuries, alcohol poisoning, violence, and dangerous behaviors.

Long-term health risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption include heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, digestive problems, cognitive difficulties, depression, anxiety, dementia, and addiction. Long-term excessive drinking has also been associated with an increased risk for certain types of cancer. These include breast, liver, colon, mouth, esophagus, and throat cancers. Most recently, white wine was connected with an increased risk of melanoma.

Antioxidants and Cancer

Often found naturally in foods, antioxidants are compounds that prevent or slow cell damage. Antioxidants achieve this by interacting with free radicals. Free radicals are highly-reactive compounds in the body that damage cells. Free radicals may damage genetic material, which ultimately increases cancer risk. Fruits and vegetables are particularly high in antioxidants, including  grapes used to make wine. Red wine has especially high levels of these compounds.

Studies in cells and laboratory animals have shown increasing antioxidant intake can prevent the damage associated with cancer. However, results from similar studies with humans have been less conclusive. Some studies showed supplementing the diet with antioxidants had no effect on cancer risk. Others showed some benefits and lowered risks.

Red Wine and Mesothelioma

One study on the effects of wine and resveratrol on cancer was very promising for mesothelioma patients. This study examined mesothelioma specifically. Researchers discovered resveratrol inhibited the growth of malignant mesothelioma cells through a specific interaction with a protein found in those cells. The study included the administration of resveratrol to laboratory mice with mesothelioma. The result was suppressed tumor growth.

Another exciting study showed combining resveratrol with the chemotherapy drug cisplatin made the treatment more effective in mesothelioma cells. Researchers hope their success will lead to a better treatment. However, it is unknown whether drinking red wine while undergoing chemotherapy is helpful.

Grape Seed’s Effect on Cancer Cells

Resveratrol and other antioxidants from the grape skin are not the only players in the war against cancer. Grape seed extract has also been shown to have anti-cancer effects. Grape seed extract reduces the risk of skin cancer and kills colon cancer cells. The extract is also proven to either kill or slow the growth of cancer cells in breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Drinking Wine – Positive Effects on Mental and Social Health

Drinking alcohol in excess is associated with negative psychological effects. On the other hand, moderate drinking is associated with some psychological benefits. These social and psychological benefits may be useful for someone struggling with a terrible cancer like mesothelioma. One important benefit of moderate drinking is stress relief. Patients with cancer often live with a great deal of stress. Moderate, controlled wine consumption may help alleviate cancer related stress.

Moderate drinking also reduces tension and depression and increases feelings of happiness. Drinking also seems to help improve social health. This is probably because moderate and light drinkers typically drink with friends or family in social settings. Social activity could provide positive support for someone living with mesothelioma.

Only Drink with Your Doctor’s Permission

There are a number of potential benefits of drinking wine, especially red wine. There may even be reason to believe that new cancer treatments will be developed from the compounds found in wine. However, there are potential risks as well. If you are a mesothelioma patient and are not a regular drinker, experts say that there is no reason to start drinking. If you are in poor health or undergoing treatment, the proven and potential benefits are not strong enough to take on the potential risks.

Take heart from the advances being made to connect wine with controlling growth of cancer cells and tumors. However, do not start drinking unless you have cleared it with your medical team. Moderate drinking is generally considered low-risk, but there may be higher risks for you particularly. Your doctor can tell you if a glass of wine with friends would be beneficial. There may be dangerous interactions with the medications you take, so clearing wine consumption with your medical team is important. Wine may be a delicious drink with health benefits for some people, but it is not for everyone.

Page Edited by Dave Foster

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Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available. Connect with Patient Advocate Dave Foster

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