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Grapes cut cancer risk, study finds

FRESNO, Calif. – Two and a half cups of fresh grapes a week may cut the risk of some cancers in half, according to the results of a new study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The latest research on a compound called resveratrol is good news for people who like fresh grapes. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant found in the skins of fresh grapes and has been linked to lowering the risk of prostate cancer in the new study.

Consumers can get the necessary amount of resveratrol by eating fresh grapes of any color. Because red wine is fermented with the skins, red wine contains resveratrol and the study linked the reduced prostate risk to the consumption of red wine, reporting that four or more glasses of red wine per week may cut the risk of prostate cancer in half. The findings appear in the current issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

But red wine is not the only source for the compound. "Fresh grapes have the same range of concentrations of resveratrol as red wines," says Le Creasy, who discovered resveratrol in grapes through his work at Cornell University in the early ‘90s and has researched it extensively ever since. "A pound of grapes per week provides the same amount of resveratrol as four glasses of red wine." One pound equals approximately two and a half cups of the fruit.

The study is the latest in a string of reports linking fresh grapes and grape compounds with disease prevention. In the July 2004 publication Nature, it was reported that researchers at Harvard University found that resveratrol may contribute to increased longevity in the same way that caloric restriction does, by decreasing the development of fat cells and increasing the use of fat within existing cells. Resveratrol was also shown to prevent premature cell death. Further studies are under way.

Research has established that resveratrol and other antioxidants are found in the skins of red, green and blue-black grapes. Fresh grapes are available all year. From May through December, most of the fresh grapes in stores come from California which produces over 97 percent of the fresh grapes grown in the United States.

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