A flurry of recent research published over the past 30 days has found that resveratrol blocks a number of different cancers, including breast cancer, skin cancer and leukemia.
What is resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a compound found in the skin and stems of many red fruits including red grapes, but is also found among other plant-based foods such as peanuts. The plant compound has been linked with longer lifespan and reductions in heart disease. Now we find that its ability to stop cancer is pervasive.
Cancer research with resveratrol
The most recent research comes from South Korea’s Kongju National University. The researchers found that resveratrol stopped the progression of a connective tissue cancer called fibrosarcoma. The researchers tested human fibrosarcoma cell growth after treatment with resveratrol and found the potent polyphenol stopped the fibrosarcoma cells in their tracks. Several doses of resveratrol were applied in this study, and all doses resulted in the cancer cell inhibition.
The mechanism found by the researchers related to the ability of resveratrol to regulate cell enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). MMPs govern the process of cell breakdown and tissue expansion.
The researchers also found that resveratrol triggered the p38 and PI-3K pathways within the cancerous cells, stopping them from metastasizing.
Meanwhile, research from the Sackler School of Medicine at Israel’s Tel-Aviv University has found that resveratrol inhibited the growth of colon cancer cells. In this study, resveratrol slowed the production of certain inflammatory cytokines among human colon cancer cells including IL-6 and IL-10. At the same time, the resveratrol increased the TNF-alpha cytokine, which stimulates cell death among cancerous cells.
Researchers from Rome’s Dermatological Institute of the Immaculate – a leading skin research college – found that resveratrol and related plant polyphenols inhibited skin cancer growth on cells that suffered from ultraviolet radiation. Some of this effect was seen to be an alteration of the cytokines, but also by stimulating cancer-cell beating cytokines such as NFkappaB.
Scientists from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine have found that resveratrol inhibited the growth of breast cancer by stopping the stem-like cells that form into breast cancer tumors. This was accomplished by the resveratrol inhibiting DNA expression, preventing the cells’ maturation into full blown tumor cells. The researchers concluded that the finding “provides us with a strong rationale to use this agent for chemoprevention against ductal carcinoma in situ of breast cancer.”
Researchers from Spain’s University of Murcia also studied resveratrol’s ability to stop breast cancer growth, along with human leukemia. Once again, the researchers found that resveratrol inhibited the growth of three different cancer cell lines by altering the genetic expression among these cells.
German researchers have found that resveratrol contains a chemical structure called a γ-lactam ring, which appears to be a critical factor that stops cancer cell growth by stimulating anti-cancer DNA expression.
Researchers from Turkey’s Hacettepe University have found that resveratrol stops human cancer growth of breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and thyroid cancer. They found that resveratrol stops and may even reverse DNA damage among cells that are becoming cancerous.
Scientists from China’s Tongji University School of Medicine have found that resveratrol inhibits the growth of lung cancer cells. The researchers found that resveratrol stopped what is called the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition – the ability of the cells to mature into tumor-like cells. They also found that resveratrol stopped the ability of the cancer cells to adhere to tissue systems.
Scientists from South Korea’s Soonchunhyang Medical Research Institute at Soonchunhyang University found that resveratrol stopped the growth and expansion of malignant mesothelioma cells – a type of lung cancer often caused by asbestos exposure. The research found, once again, that resveratrol altered DNA expression and halted the ability of these cancer cells to metastasize.
Gene expression altered by resveratrol
Research has so far found that over 100 different gene expression pathways are altered by resveratrol. These include not only those that inhibit various types of cancer cells, but also those that regulate artery health, liver health, brain cell health and other health factors.
Sources and doses of resveratrol
While resveratrol has become popular because it is a component of wine, the resveratrol content in wine is actually quite small, and its effectiveness may well be eliminated by the wine’s alcohol content.
The effective dose of resveratrol found by a BioMarker Pharmaceuticals study was between 1.45 and 1.74 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This translates to about 20 milligrams per day for a typical person.
In other words, to achieve a minimum ability to effect gene expression of potential or already-formed cancer cells is 20 milligrams per day. A Harvard study found that 12 times this dose – equivalent to 240 milligrams per day – effected a significant amount of genetic expression results.
From a safety standpoint, those versed in resveratrol supplementation have been recommending dosages that range from 20 milligrams to 100 milligrams per day of resveratrol supplements.
As a comparison, it would require 41 glasses of a typical red wine to achieve this minimally effective dose of 20 milligrams.
Foods such as red grapes, peanuts, cranberries, blueberries and bilberries all contain resveratrol. Like wine, their resveratrol content per serving tends to be far lower than the amount researchers have determined affects genetic expression.
However, these foods also contain numerous other compounds – nutrients and polyphenols – that work synergistically with resveratrol to produce its health benefits.
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Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.