Resveratrol reduces prostate cancer growth in mice
A report published online on August 3, 2007 in the journal Carcinogenesis revealed the finding of researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham that the compound known as resveratrol, found in grapes and red wine, reduces the growth of prostate cancer in an animal model of the disease. Resveratrol, which also occurs in berries and peanuts, is a polyphenolic phytochemical which has also been shown to be of benefit in cardiovascular disease prevention.
In a study funded by the United States Department of Defense and the National Cancer Institute, Coral Lamartiniere, PhD and his associates at the University of Alabama’s Department of Pathology and the Comprehensive Cancer Center added powdered resveratrol to the diet of a group of male mice that were genetically modified to develop adenocarcinoma of the prostate. An additional group of mice received phytoestrogen-free control diets. The daily dose of resveratrol used in the study was the human equivalent of the amount contained in a bottle of red wine.
The diets were administered to the animals beginning at five weeks of age. At seven months, the resveratrol-fed mice had an 87 percent decrease in the risk of developing prostate tumors of the worst stage. Animals that developed a less serious form of the disease were 48 percent likelier to experience a reduction in tumor growth compared with those not given resveratrol. “A cancer prevention researcher lives for these days when they can make that kind of finding,” stated Dr Lamartiniere, who is with the University of Alabama, Birmingham’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
An earlier study conducted at the University of Alabama, published in the May, 2006 issue of Carcinogenesis, found a reduction in breast cancer risk in mice given resveratrol. Research is currently being conducted in humans to determine the optimal cancer-preventive dosage. Although it is not advisable to drink the amount of wine one would need to obtain the quantity of resveratrol used in this study, a resveratrol supplement could be combined with a safe level of wine consumption, which is two servings per day for men and one for women.
“I drink a glass a day every evening because I’m concerned about prostate cancer,” Dr Lamartiniere added. “It runs in my family.”
Prostate cancer (PC) is now being linked to genetic abnormalities that explain the familial occurrence of PC that we frequently see. An understanding of why PC affects certain populations of men more than others is now becoming better understood. We know that PC is equally as prevalent in Asian men as in Western men, but that the frequency of biologically aggressive PC is significantly greater in the non-Asian population. This finding is felt to be possibly related to the lower amount of dietary fat in the Asian diet as well as the frequent use of soy products and a higher intake of green tea polyphenols (Aldercreutz et al., Proc. Annu. Meet. Cancer Res.).
In the United States, 74% of men with PC are considered to have "sporadic" PC, while the remaining 26% demonstrate evidence of genetic clustering. Within the 26%, 19% are cases of hereditary PC (HPC) versus 81% designated as familial PC (FPC) (Bastacky et al., J. Urol., 1995). Familial prostate cancer is defined as the simple clustering of the cancer in families, whereas hereditary prostate cancer requires any of the following three criteria: a family with three generations affected, three first-degree [brother(s) or father] relatives affected, or three relatives affected before the age of 55 years (Carter et al., J. Urol., 1993). Men with either FPC or HPC are prime candidates for preventive approaches involving nutritional adjuncts.
PSA is produced by normal, hyperplastic and cancerous prostatic tissue. Serum PSA has been found to be the most sensitive marker for monitoring individuals with prostate cancer and to enhance efficacy in monitoring progression of disease and response to therapy.
Red wine contains resveratrol, but the quantity varies depending on where the grapes are grown, the time of harvest, and other factors. In fact, usually only 1-3 mg resveratrol per liter of red wine is currently found, even in the most robust red wines. After years of research, a standardized resveratrol extract is now available as a dietary supplement.