Concord grape juice could inhibit formation of breast cancer tumors- study

14 Mar 2006 --- Also reduces the amount of DNA damage to mammary glands.

Drinking Concord grape juice inhibited the formation of breast tumors in laboratory rats while also reducing the amount of DNA damage to mammary glands, according to a study published in a recent issue of Cancer Letters.

"This study looked at the early, or initiation, stage of cancer development and saw that consuming Concord grape juice actually suppressed the growth of tumors as well as reduced damage to the mammary gland's DNA," explained study senior author, Keith Singletary, Ph.D., Professor of Nutrition, Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition, University of Illinois. "In a related previous study, we saw a similar effect in what we call the promotion stage-a later stage in the development of cancer. Taken together, the results are quite interesting and certainly merit additional study."

"These studies indicate that specific constituents or combinations of phytochemicals in Concord grape juice can block the initiation stage of tumor formation," Singletary explained. Cancer develops over an extended period of time in at least two stages -- initiation and promotion. The initiation, or early stage of cancer, may occur when there is damage to a cell's DNA resulting from a variety of factors including the exposure to carcinogens or to oxygen free radical species. The promotion stage occurs when these "initiated" cells are then stimulated to reproduce faster than surrounding normal cells. "With the results of this study combined with the previous one, we see Concord grape juice having a suppressive effect on both stages of cancer development," Singletary said.

With several large-scale population studies demonstrating that increased fruit and vegetable consumption decreases the risk for numerous cancers, researchers have sought to identify specific foods and phytochemicals that may have cancer preventive properties. There is particular interest in plant substances called polyphenols. Polyphenols are thought to help protect against cancer by suppressing oxidative stress, inhibiting DNA damage to human cells, and slowing down the multiplication of cancer cells. These compounds include the anthocyanin pigments, which give fruits and vegetables their blue and purple colors. One food source that is rich in anthocyanins, and related compounds called proanthocyanidins, is Concord grapes.

According to the USDA proanthocyanidin database, published in 2004, purple grape juice from Concord grapes is higher in proanthocyanidins, on a per serving basis, than any other beverage tested, including red wine and cranberry juice cocktail. Additionally, the total antioxidant capacity of Concord grape juice is among the highest of all foods.

The study was underwritten, in part, by Welch Foods Inc.

Welch's is the world's leading marketer of Concord and Niagara grape-based products, including grape juice and jelly. The company produces a variety of other fruit-based products, including 100 percent juices, juice cocktails, and drinks in the following forms: single serve, bottled, refrigerated, and frozen and shelf-stable concentrates. In addition, Welch's produces a number of fruit spread products under both the Welch's and BAMA brand names.

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