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Resveratrol for Cancer

Can Resveratrol Keep You Cancer-Free?

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Updated July 15, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

A natural substance found in grape skin, resveratrol is sometimes recommended for cancer prevention. Available in supplement form, resveratrol is known to act as an antioxidant and to fight inflammation (a biological process linked to the development of cancer). Although there is a lack of clinical trials on resveratrol and cancer prevention, some preliminary research suggests that resveratrol may offer some cancer-fighting effects.

The Science Behind Resveratrol and Cancer

Findings from test-tube studies and animal research indicate that resveratrol may be useful for cancer prevention, according to a 2007 report published in Cancer Biology & Therapy. Reviewing the available research on resveratrol and cancer prevention, the report's authors found that resveratrol appears to affect all stages of carcinogenesis (in which normal cells transform into cancer cells).

More recent research has focused on resveratrol and specific forms of cancer. For instance, a 2008 study from Cancer Prevention Research found that resveratrol may aid in breast cancer prevention. In tests on cells in culture, the study's authors demonstrated that resveratrol may protect against the type of breast cancer fueled by elevated levels of estrogen. Published in the journal Carcinogenesis, another 2008 study suggests that resveratrol may help prevent prostate cancer (possibly due to its effects on a male sex hormone called androgen).

Should You Take Resveratrol Supplements for Cancer Prevention?

Due to the lack of research on resveratrol's anti-cancer effects in humans, it's too soon to recommend the use of resveratrol supplements for cancer prevention. If you'd like to increase your resveratrol intake, try boosting your consumption of grapes, blueberries, cranberries, and pomegranate (each of which deliver an array of antioxidants that may help fight cancer).

Red wine is also rich in resveratrol. However, the National Cancer Institute warns that consumption of large amounts of alcohol may raise your risk of certain cancers.

If you're considering the use of resveratrol supplements for prevention of cancer (or any other condition), consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen.

Sources:

Athar M, Back JH, Tang X, Kim KH, Kopelovich L, Bickers DR, Kim AL. "Resveratrol: a review of preclinical studies for human cancer prevention." Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2007 Nov 1;224(3):274-83.

Goswami SK, Das DK. "Resveratrol and chemoprevention." Cancer Lett. 2009 Oct 18;284(1):1-6.

Liu BL, Zhang X, Zhang W, Zhen HN. "New enlightenment of French Paradox: resveratrol's potential for cancer chemoprevention and anti-cancer therapy." Cancer Biol Ther. 2007 Dec;6(12):1833-6.

Lu F, Zahid M, Wang C, Saeed M, Cavalieri EL, Rogan EG. "Resveratrol prevents estrogen-DNA adduct formation and neoplastic transformation in MCF-10F cells." Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2008 Jul;1(2):135-45.

National Cancer Institute. "Red Wine and Cancer Prevention". November 2002.

Wang TT, Hudson TS, Wang TC, Remsberg CM, Davies NM, Takahashi Y, Kim YS, Seifried H, Vinyard BT, Perkins SN, Hursting SD. "Differential effects of resveratrol on androgen-responsive LNCaP human prostate cancer cells in vitro and in vivo." Carcinogenesis. 2008 Oct;29(10):2001-10.

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