Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study finds certain compounds in beer, wine effective in slowing breast cancer cell growth


Numerous studies have been published showing that consuming alcohol increases the risk for breast cancer. That’s what makes a new research finding from Portugal so intriguing. The study has determined that certain compounds found in wine, beer (and tea) have contributed to a significant decrease in breast cancer cell proliferation.


Numerous studies have found that regular, moderate use of alcohol affects the levels of important female hormones, especially for postmenopausal women whose bodies make much less estrogen and progesterone than before they entered menopause. As a consequence, women’s breast cells are exposed to higher levels of estrogen if alcohol was consumed. This may in turn trigger the cells, which are estrogen sensitive in such women, to become cancerous.

Phenolic phytochemicals are widely distributed in the plant kingdom. In various experiments, it has been shown that selected polyphenols, mainly flavonoids, confer protective effects on the cardiovascular system and have anticancer, antiviral and antiallergic properties. Flavonoids are low molecular weight compounds composed of a three-ring structure with various substitutions, which appear to be responsible for the antioxidant and antiproliferative properties. It is well known that consumption of red wine in moderation is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Many believe that the low incidence of coronary artery disease found among the French could be partially related to the pharmacological properties of polyphenolic compounds present in red wine.

A New Study

Three researchers from the Universidade do Porto, Portugal set out to examine whether phenolic compounds could have properties that would be effective in fighting breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed nondermatologic cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States. They investigated the effect of three phenolic compounds -- epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), xanthohumol (XN) and resveratrol (RES) -- substances present in significant concentrations in tea, beer and red wine, respectively, on the growth of a human breast cancer cell line, MCF-7.

The authors of the study entitled "Phenolic Compounds in the Control of Breast Cancer Cell Growth" are S. Pinheiro-Silva, I. Azevedo, and C. Calhau, all at the Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal. They will present their findings at the American Physiological Society’s (APS) ( annual scientific conference, Experimental Biology 2003, being held April 17-21, 2004, at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center.


The cell line (MCF-7) was cultured in appropriate medium, in different cell plates, under control conditions or in the presence of any of the three polyphenols: EGCG, XN or RES. Various concentrations and various time periods of treatment were tested for each compound. At the chosen time points, the cells were taken off the plates and counted in a Neubauer chamber after exposure to tryptan blue (0.4 percent). The colorant is excluded from live cells, and so the method allows simultaneously quantifying the number of cells (index of proliferation) and cytotoxicity (ratio between dead and live cells). In other experiments, 3H-thymidine incorporation was evaluated in each time and treatment condition, indicating the effect of treatment on DNA synthesis.


All three polyphenolic compounds tested showed a significant effect, decreasing breast cancer cells proliferation. The effects were observed both over the number of cells after each time period, and over 3H-thymidine incorporation. Cytotoxicity depended on the compound concentration and duration of treatment.

XN, found in beer, was the most potent polyphenol over breast cancer cell growth: it showed its effect more rapidly and at a lower concentration (24 hours, one to 10 ìM). On the other hand, cytotoxicity was observed only at 50 to 100 ìM concentrations, and usually after longer time periods. XN IC50 for 3H-thymidine incorporation, at 24 h of treatment, was found to be 18.3 ìM.

RES did also show an anti-proliferative effect over the growth of the breast cancer cell line, albeit with less potency than XN: at 24 hours, treatment anti-proliferative effect was significant only for the higher tested concentrations, 50 and 100 ìM.

On the other hand, the effects of RES over 3H-thymidine incorporation were not in linear correlation with the effects over cell number, indicating that it is probably acting on more than one biochemical event. Its IC50 for 3H-thymidine incorporation decrease, at 24 hours treatment, was found to be 71.2 ìM.

EGCG showed an inhibitory effect upon cell growth, but was less potent than XN and RES. Only at the highest concentration tested, 100 ìM, the proliferative inhibitory effect was statistically significant after 24 hours of treatment. At 50 ìM, the inhibitory effect was significant only after 72 hours exposure. On the other hand, EGCG showed no cytotoxicity.


The researchers concluded the following:
  • three polyphenolic compounds, EGCG, XN and RES, known to be abundant in tea, beer and red wine, respectively, when present in the nutritive medium of a breast cancer cell line (MCF-7), were all able to reduce cell proliferation. These effects could be observed at concentrations that were not cytotoxic.

  • a decrease in 3H-thymidine incorporation, a commonly used index of DNA synthesis, was also observed in the presence of the compounds, very much in correspondence with the anti-proliferative effect in the case of XN. EGCG, in this selection of polyphenols, was the least potent on a weight basis, although that may have no therapeutic meaning since it was also the least toxic compound (i.e. it can be given in higher doses).

  • these biochemical results, over breast cancer cells, add support and meaning to epidemiological studies that relate consumption of certain beverages with a lesser incidence and prevalence of cancer.


This study does not call for women to increase alcohol consumption as a means of breast cancer prevention. The authors state that their findings suggest that further studies, namely in vivo studies, are necessary to fully support the inclusion of these compounds and/or beverages in diet recommendations in the perspective of cancer prevention.

The American Physiological Society (APS) is America’s oldest biomedical sciences research society. The not-for-profit society, with some 11,000 members, is the publisher of 14 scientific journals, including the American Journal of Physiology, which has been published since 1898.

Editors Note: For further information or to schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact Donna Krupa at 703.967.2751 (cell), 703.527.7357 (office) or at Or contact the APS newsroom at 202.249.4009 between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM EDT April 17-21, 2004.

Donna Krupa | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>