Cancer and Resveratrol

The proposed effects of resveratrol in preventing and treating cancer have drawn major attention to this polyphenol. In the development of cancer, a group of cells is damaged, displaying uncontrolled growth and division, invasion and destruction of natural tissues, and sometimes metastasis, in which cells spread to other locations in the body. Cancer may be caused by carcinogens which alter cellular metabolism or damage DNA in cells.


From research carried out on animals and cell culture, resveratrol has been discovered to exhibit anticancer properties. It has been reported to suppress the proliferation of a variety of human cancer cell lines, including cancers of the breast, prostate, stomach, colon, pancreas, and thyroid. For instance, in 2008, two separate research studies were done investigating the benefits of resveratrol for breast cancer. The National Institute of Health reported that resveratrol is an excellent candidate for the treatment of some forms of breast cancer. University of Nebraska researchers claimed that resveratrol has the ability to prevent the initial step that leads to breast cancer.


Studies done on rats that were administered resveratrol orally found that it inhibited the development of esophageal, intestinal, and mammary or breast cancers induced by chemical carcinogens. In other studies, resveratrol administered orally to mice was not effective in inhibiting the development of lung cancer induced by carcinogens in cigarette smoke. With resveratrol given to animals that have colon cancer, research has produced mixed results. Researchers in India have conducted a few studies indicating that resveratrol protects against colon cancer development in rats administered the carcinogen 1,2-dimthylhydrazine.


When it comes to humans, it is presently unknown whether taking resveratrol can help prevent cancer. Resveratrol is currently being studied to determine how it affects all three stages of carcinogenesis: initiation, promotion, and progression. One of the most recent news pertaining to these studies comes from researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Led by Arthur Polans, the research group has demonstrated the benefits of resveratrol in killing cancer cells and shrinking tumors in three forms of cancer including retinoblastoma, skin melanoma, and breast cancer. Their new treatment is ready for clinical trials, in which they hope to prove the effectiveness of resveratrol in treating neuroblastoma, a cancer affecting the nervous system. The University of Wisconsin researchers are also studying the use of resveratrol in the treatment of uveal melanoma, a cancer of the eye.