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Wine May Shield Breast Cancer Patients From Radiation Side Effects

Italian study suggests its natural antioxidants protect the skin

FRIDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A glass of wine a day cut the risk of treatment-linked skin toxicity by two-thirds in women undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer, Italian researchers report.

Skin reactions are a common side effect of cancer radiation therapy, and, while medications can help prevent these problems, they can be expensive and often have their own side effects. In some cases, drugs used to reduce radiation-linked side effects can actually protect breast cancer tumor cells, according to a news release from the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

So, researchers at Catholic University and the National Research Council in Italy wondered if the natural antioxidants found in wine might work to ward off radiation-linked damage.

In the study, 348 women with breast cancer were divided into three groups depending on the dose of radiation received. The researchers found that patients who drank wine on the days they had their treatment had lower rates of Grade 2, or higher acute toxicity, than those who did not. In fact, women who drank one glass of wine a day had a 13.6 percent rate of skin toxicity compared to a 38.4 percent incidence among patients who did not consume wine, according to the study.

"If wine can prevent radiotherapy-induced toxicity without affecting antitumor efficacy, as we observed, it also has the potential to enhance the therapeutic benefit in cancer patients without increasing their risk of serious adverse effects," study author Dr. Vincenzo Valentini, a radiation oncologist at Catholic University in Rome, said in the news release. "The possibility that particular dietary practices or interventions can reduce radiation-induced toxicity is very intriguing."

The findings were published in the August issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics.

More information

Find out more about breast cancer at the American Cancer Society.

-- E.J. Mundell

SOURCE: American Society for Radiation Oncology, news release, Aug. 13, 2009

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