How Does Resveratrol Fight Cancer Cells? 

Resveratrol fights cancer cells in numerous ways.  As mentioned in the Life Extension section of this site, resveratrol activates the sirtuin enzyme, SIRT1, which acts as guardian of cells’ DNA and gene expression.  Similarly, Resveratrol, as a powerful antioxidant, neutralizes free radicals (Free radicals can lead to cancer by causing mutations in a cell’s DNA or by promoting inflammation). Finally, resveratrol promotes apoptosis of cancer cells - a natural process whereby cells are preprogrammed to die. Resveratrol promoted apoptosis is especially important considering cancer often disables a cell’s tumor suppressor gene, P53, leaving the cell without a means to protect itself.

What Types of Cancer Might Resveratrol Fight?

Currently, studies are underway to determine the specific types of cancer resveratrol fights as well the effective dosages and methods of administration (e.g. oral, intravenous, or topical) for each type of cancer (see the “Current Resveratrol Studies” tab for more information). Solid evidence from studies already completed, however, reveal resveratrol’s promise in fighting cancer.   Below are some of the types of cancer resveratrol might fight:

Pancreatic Cancer

By disabling pancreatic cancer cells’ mitochondria (i.e. power source) resveratrol kills pancreatic cancer cells while protecting healthy cells from radiation treatment.

Breast Cancer

  • Resveratrol prevents the first step that occurs when estrogen begins the process that leads to breast cancer.
  • Resveratrol also strongly inhibits BRCA1-mutant tumor growth.
  • The Cleveland Clinic revealed that resveratrol, when administered in combination with rapamycin (a drug with immunosuppressant effects considered to be a potentially promising breast cancer treatment), was twice as effective in killing breast cancer cells as when rapamycin was administered alone. In effect, the resveratrol prevented the breast cancer cells from becoming resistant to rapamycin.   According to the study’s lead, Charis Eng, MD and Ph.D., "…Our findings show that resveratrol seems to mitigate rapamycin-induced drug resistance in breast cancers…”  What’s more, the study also administered resveratrol alone (without rapamycin) to the breast cancer cells and found that resveratrol slowed or stopped their growth in a dose dependent manner.  This study concluded that resveratrol might be a “powerful integrative medicine adjunct to traditional chemotherapy.” 

Lung Cancer

Studies have revealed that cigarette smoke destroys SIRT1 genes in lung cells while other studies have revealed, as noted on the Life Extension page, that resveratrol increases SIRT1 activity.  Perhaps this is why men between the ages of 45 and 69 who smoke have a 60% reduced rate of lung cancer if they drink one or two glasses of red wine per day – or a 2% reduced risk of getting cancer for each glass of red wine consumed per month.

Prostate Cancer

Several studies have revealed that resveratrol might prevent or diminish prostate cancer severity.  For instance, men who drink 4 to 7 glasses of red wine per week are half as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Further, mice given resveratrol are 87% less likely to develop the most deadly form of prostate cancer and are 48 % more likely to have their tumor growth slowed or stopped.

Skin Cancer

Resveratrol applied topically has exhibited promising results in the prevention of skin cancer. Specifically, when resveratrol was applied to the skin of hairless mice prior to UVB (solar) radiation exposure, the mice were inflicted with less skin tumors than mice not applied resveratrol.  Further, resveratrol applied to the skin of hairless mice after UVB exposure also helped to prevent skin tumors.

Leukemia & Other Blood Cancers

Research has show that grape seed extract induces leukemia cells to kill themselves.  Grape seed extract contains resveratrol. Note: See the Current Resveratrol Studies page for a list of current resveratrol studies being conducted on different forms of cancer.

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