12.11.2014 change 12.11.2014

Grape seeds can help fight cancer

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Usually disdained grape seeds, skin, and vine leaves can be an effective aid in the fight against cancer. Due to high content of the compounds with anticancer activity, the researchers want to use them in food supplements or drugs. Grapes with dark skin are recommended, because they contain more health-promoting compounds.

Among the products we consume, leafy vegetables exhibit the strongest anti-cancer activity, especially cabbage. They owe their properties to do-called phytocompounds they contain. "It has long been known that these compounds act as antioxidants in the body, the mechanism of which consists in blocking the free radicals and thus reducing the risk of tumorigenicity" - explained Prof. Stanisław Weidner from the University of Warmia and Mazury.

Why did nature equip plants in such a highly effective anti-cancer agents? "In the course of evolution, plants had to develop specialized defence systems, collect large amounts of chemicals that would allow them to survive in a hostile environment, after all they can not escape the attackers. +Chemical warfare+ of plants was with increased content of the potent insecticidal, fungicidal and bactericidal compounds in their tissues, allowing plants to fight against the aggressors" - explained the scientist.

Anti-cancer phytochemicals is a very quantitatively and qualitatively diverse group of tens of thousands of chemical compounds, which are responsible for various properties of fruits and vegetables, including taste, colour and aroma. Some of them are so effective that they can be used directly in the treatment of advanced cancers. Other serve as a starting point for the production of substances even more effective in treatment.

A very important group of phytochemicals are polyphenols. So far more than 10 thousand compounds of this type have been identified, but their protective role in plants is not fully understood. Their amounts and quality determine the properties of plant foods and their prophylactic and therapeutic activity. Studies show that in a diet of modern man, they are as important as vitamins.

Researchers from the Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology of the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn investigate the possibility of using phenolic compounds derived from plant as a commercial source of antioxidants. They could be used as dietary supplements or as pharmaceuticals. Researchers from Olsztyn have focused on the study of the vine: the seeds, skin, leaves and roots.

"It is a very noble plant. Our research shows that vine leaves and roots are very rich in phenolic compounds" - told PAP Angelika Król from the University of Warmia and Mazury. Most of the phenolic compounds are present in vine roots, but the most valuable phenolic acids are found in the leaves. The darker the skin of grapes, the more phenolic compounds it contains. "We will try to cooperate with medical institutes with regard to the commercial use of phenolic compounds we isolate from the vine" - announced Angelika Król.

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland, Ewelina Krajczyńska

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