Grapes Protect Against Skin Cancer
When we think about protection from skin cancer, most people think about protection against the sun’s rays. But it is not the sun’s rays themselves that are the problem. It is how our body copes with those sun’s rays.
After all, humanity has been living under the sun for hundreds of thousands of years.
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Grapes help protect the skin
A new university study From Spain has found that procyanidins from grapes protect against the damaging effects of UVA rays from the sun, including cancer and cell death.
The study, performed in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Barcelona in Spain, found that the antioxidant polyphenols in grapes protect the cells of the skin – keratinocytes – against damage from reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Reactive oxygen species, also called free radicals, damage skin cells by producing lipid peroxidation. This has been shown to damage cell membranes, produce DNA mutation, skin cancer, premature aging and other skin diseases. These are also related to a heightened risk of melanoma.
The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, was carried out on cells in the laboratory. Lead researcher Dr. Marta Cascante, is a Professor of Biochemistry in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Barcelona. She explained to the Spanish National Research Council:
“These polyphenolic fractions inhibit the generation of the ROSs [reactive oxygen species] and, as a result, the subsequent activation of the JNK and p38 enzymes, meaning they have a protective effect against ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun.”
The p38 and JNK1/2 enzymes are stimulated by both ultraviolet-A and ultraviolet-B radiation from the sun. In the experiment, they were inhibited by the grape extracts. These two enzymes are implicated in the production of the free radicals that harm the cells.
The phytochemicals in the grapes were described as procyanidin oligomers and gallate esters. Procyanidins have been found in a number of other plant foods, as has gallic acid.
This study confirms others that have found that certain plant antioxidants protect against sun damage. These same antioxidants also help plants protect themselves against sun damage.
Matito C, Agell N, Sanchez-Tena S, Torres JL, Cascante M. Protective effect of structurally diverse grape procyanidin fractions against UV-induced cell damage and death. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 May 11;59(9):4489-95.