Red Wine
Red wineAJ Cann/Flickr

Too much alcohol causes neck and head cancers, but red wine can help prevent them, says a new study.

Excess intake of alcohol is known to cause DNA damage and cancer. In the new study, researchers found that a chemical compound in red wine and grape skin called resveratrol was highly effective in killing the cells damaged by alcohol.

"Alcohol bombards your genes. Your body has ways to repair this damage, but with enough alcohol eventually some damage isn't fixed. That's why excessive alcohol use is a factor in head and neck cancer," Dr Robert Sclafani, from the University of Colorado Cancer Center and professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the CU School of Medicine, said in a news release. "Now, resveratrol challenges these cells - the ones with unrepaired DNA damage are killed, so they can't go on to cause cancer. Alcohol damages cells and resveratrol kills damaged cells."

The study analysed Fanconi anemia, a rare genetic disorder, which deactivates a person's natural ability to repair DNA damage. People with this disorder are known to be at greater risk of leukaemia and cancers of head and neck.

Researchers found that people with the disorder and those who are addicted to alcohol shared DNA tangles called "cross links" and their body lacked the ability to repair these damages.

The study found that acetyl aldehyde; a partly processed state of alcohol, was carcinogen and produced cross links in DNA.

"But when you look at epidemiological studies of head and neck cancer, alcohol is a factor, but by alcohol source, the lowest cancer incidence is in people who drank red wine," Sclafani explained. "In red wine, there's something that's blocking the cancer-causing effect of alcohol."

The study has been reported in Experimental Medicine and Biology.

Red Wine – How it can Help Improve Your Health: Some Research-Proven Benefits:

Dental Care- Cavity Prevention

A study released in May showed that red wine and grape seed extract were highly effective in destroying certain communities of bacteria responsible for formation of plaque and tooth decay.

Memory Booster

A German study reported in Journal of Neuroscience found that resveratrol in red wine and dark chocolate helped improve memory.

Anti-Cancer Effect

Dr Guido Kroemer of the Gustave Roussy Institute in Villejuif in France and colleagues reported in February that resveratrol and painkiller aspirin protected against cancer by killing abnormal cells that contained more than two sets of chromosomes.

In another study from US, researchers found that an active component in grape seed extract known as B2G2 was effective in executing cell death known as apoptosis in prostate cancer cells.

Similarly, a February study found that grape seed extract combined with chemotherapy improved bowel cancer treatment.

Immune System Booster

Scientists from Oregon State University reported in September last year that two chemical compounds - resveratrol in red grapes and pterostilbene in blueberries, were highly effective in boosting the immune system.

Eye Health

Research shows that regular consumption of grapes can prevent retinal degeneration, an eye disorder that causes permanent damages to the light sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye that plays a major role in the vision process.