Johannesburg - Red wine quaffers take note, there is more to vino than generating a feeling of well-being.

New research suggests that red wine can halve the rate of bowel cancer, and may also help prevent heart disease and diabetes.

The secret is a substance called resveratrol, a compound found in the skin of red grapes.

University of Leicester researchers said in a EurekAlert! press statement that the health benefits of resveratrol have been known for some time, but it had not been proved that it could be effective in humans, nor what the best dose was.

Using laboratory models, they have found that a daily amount of resveratrol equivalent to two glasses of wine can halve the rate of bowel tumours.

They hope to take their research to the next stage by carrying out clinical trials to find out the optimum level of resveratrol in humans.

Researcher Karen Brown said a lot of people took resveratrol as a supplement, but it was not known how it worked or on whom it could work.

“At the University of Leicester we want to see how resveratrol might work to prevent cancer in humans. Having shown in our lab experiments that it can reduce tumour development, we are now concentrating on identifying the mechanisms of how resveratrol works in human cells.

“We don’t even know the best dose you should take. It has been shown that high doses of resveratrol may potentially interfere with other medication.” - The Star