Resveratrol wine isn’t just good for your heart—it helped inhibit prostate cancer androgens in a recent lab study. Prostate cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer, is cause for the second most cancer-related deaths of American men.

Resveratrol is a polyphenolic phytochemical abundantly found in nature with high concentrations in peanuts, mulberry skins and grapeskins, and consequently, in red wine. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation due to its antioxidant properties.

Previous studies suggested resveratrol helped reduce androgen receptor (AR) expression and function of prostate cancer cells, resulting in reduced inflammation, inhibition of the final phase of multistage carcinogenesis, and suppressed cell growth. Resveratrol also provided a chemopreventative effect, allowing tumor cells to be more receptive to radiation treatment. 

Now, research from the University of Missouri (MU) suggests resveratrol may have a similar effect on radiation therapy. In the end, prostate tumor cells became more susceptible to radiation treatment, thus increasing the chances of recovery even from aggressive tumors.

Said Michael Nicholl, an assistant professor of surgical oncology in the MU School of Medicine, "We found that when exposed to the compound, the tumor cells were more susceptible to radiation treatment, but that the effect was greater than just treating with both compounds separately."

Resveratrol may have helped on this front by increasing the activity of perforin and granzyme B, which are necessary to kill tumor cells. The research team doesn't believe a large dose of resveratrol at the tumor site is necessary, since the body processes the compound efficiently; nontheless, a large amount of the extract would be needed to ensure it reaches the tumor site. Thus, the delivery method warrants further invesigation.

Nicholl said that the next step would be to test the procedure in an animal model before any clinical trials can be initiated. Nicholl's studies were published in Cancer Science. The early-stage results of this research are promising. If additional studies, including animal studies, are successful within the next few years, MU officials will request authority from the federal government to begin human drug development (this is commonly referred to as the "investigative new drug" status). After this status has been granted, researchers may conduct human clinical trials with the hope of developing new treatments for cancer.


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2013 (online November 19, 2012)