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Oct 20, 2011

Resveratrol: Breast Cancer Fighter

Red wine has long been associated with potential health benefits for those that enjoy it, along with a sense of satisfaction and tradition that can come with sipping just a little bit with dinner.  One of red wine’s most important constituents, resveratrol, has been getting a lot of press lately.  Resveratrol is a stilbenoid phenol found in grape skins, acting as a powerful antioxidant shown to improve longevity in multiple studies.  Recently, researchers from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Calabria in Italy performed a study that provided evidence of resveratrol’s efficacy in fighting breast cancer.  The study was published in The FASEB Journal.  

The researchers exposed an experimental group of cancer cells to a resveratrol solution, while leaving the control group unexposed.  The experimental group showed substantial reduction in growth, while the control group showed no significant changes.  Upon further investigation, the experimental cells’ lack of growth was tied to a suppression of estrogenic receptors on the surface of the cells.

So what does this mean for individuals wanting to reduce their chances of breast cancer?  Gerald Weissmann, MD and Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, states that "These findings are exciting, but in no way does it mean that people should go out and start using red wine or resveratrol supplements as a treatment for breast cancer...What it does mean, however, is that scientists haven't finished distilling the secrets of good health that have been hidden in natural products such as red wine." 

Several studies have recommended a glass of red wine with meals at least several times a week, while others have concluded that as little as one glass of alcohol daily increases risk for breast cancer and other cancers.  For those wanting to avoid consumption of alcohol, a good quality resveratrol supplement may be something to consider as a preventive.  Due to the multifactorial nature of any health condition, including breast cancer, there is usually no single silver bullet to guarantee a desired outcome.  So whether or not you decide to include some form of resveratrol in your life, don’t forget that a comprehensive approach is always best when aiming to lower risk for breast cancer.  A healthy, fiber-rich diet, optimal vitamin D levels, regular exercise and stress management, and overall enjoyment in life are some of the foundational elements of wellness and disease prevention.    

Dr. Shana McQueen