May 10/Seoul, South Korea/International Journal of Molecular Medicine -- Drinking red wine in moderation has long been considered to have health benefits. A substance called resveratrol, an antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes, may help reduce unhealthy cholesterol and prevent damage to blood vessels, research has shown. Now, new research suggests that red wine also may benefit patients with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

A study in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine says resveratrol causes some malignant mesothelioma cell to die. Korean medical scientists at Soonchunhyant University found the resveratrol suppressed the levels of a protein called Sp1 and caused the death of cancer cells in laboratory mice that had malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Sp1, which is also known as specificity protein 1, appears to play a key role in tumor development in some cancers. The scientists said injecting the mice with resveratrol effectively suppressed the growth of mesothelioma tumors by inhibiting the protein.

The scientists said the results of the study strongly suggest that further research should be done using resveratrol to target the specific Sp1 protein in humans with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that produces tumors in the lining of the lungs. It strikes 2,500 to 3,000 Americans each year. Typical treatments include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery in some cases.

Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma are older workers, retired workers and veterans who inhaled asbestos fibers in a workplace or during military service decades ago. The microscopic fibers lodge in the chest cavity and remain there causing inflammation and eventually disease. Asbestos disease typically takes 20 years to 40 years before sufferers notice mesothelioma symptoms such as pain beneath the ribs and shortness of breath. The cancer often has reached an advanced stage before doctors diagnose it correctly.

 From the May 10, 2012, Prepared Foods’ Daily News