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updated 12/7/2012 11:51:18 AM ET 2012-12-07T16:51:18

If given the choice between red and white wines this holiday season, go for red, scientists say. A chemical found in red wine may help prevent cancer and other health problems.

A number of studies over the years have linked this chemical, resveratrol, to health benefits. But perhaps the strongest evidence yet will be presented this week at the conference " Resveratrol 2012," held at the University of Leicester through December 7.

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"This is the second conference that brings together all the world experts in resveratrol," Karen Brown, a member of the University's Cancer Biomarkers and Prevention Group, and one of the organizers, was quoted as saying in a press release. We have got a fantastic line up covering cancer, heart disease, diabetes, neurological diseases and life extension."

"Having shown in our lab experiments that (resveratrol) can reduce tumor development, we are now concentrating on identifying the mechanisms of how resveratrol works in human cells," Brown added.

The lab experiments, which she refers to, determined that a daily amount of resveratrol equivalent to two glasses of wine can halve the rate of bowel tumors.

For those wishing or needing to avoid alcohol intake, the compound, found in the skins of red grapes, can be purchased in pill form. Such pills, however, lack the numerous other beneficial vitamins and minerals present in red wine. It's also hard to conduct a convivial holiday toast at the dinner table by clinking pills. Just keep any wine consumption in moderation.

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The next step, in terms of research, is to determine the optimum level of resveratrol that humans should ingest.

"It has been shown that high doses of resveratrol may potentially interfere with other medication," Brown explained. "With all the exciting new studies that are being done, especially the clinical trials, I hope we'll have a clearer picture in the next few years."

This week's conference, already underway, includes more than 65 lectures, presentations and posters by different researchers from all over the world.

© 2012 Discovery Channel

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