Fighting Pancreatic Cancer: Resveratrol Offers Hope
Though it’s not the most common, pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers. One in 75 men and women are diagnosed with it and more than half are diagnosed after it has already spread to other parts of the body. The survival rate is very low, even with aggressive treatment.
That’s why we were excited to see new research on resveratrol, an antioxidant compound found in grapes and certain other foods and concentrated in red wine, which found a way to make radiation treatment work better against pancreatic cancer, while protecting normal cells. Pancreatic cancer cells that were pretreated with resveratrol before irradiation underwent apoptosis (programmed cell death). Researchers say resveratrol worked by crippling the cancer cells’ core energy source, their mitochondria.
“Resveratrol seems to help by making tumor cells more sensitive to radiation and making normal cell tissue less sensitive,” says lead researcher Paul Okuneiff, M.D., chief of radiation oncology at the James J. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
This isn’t the first study to show that resveratrol can target pancreatic cancer cells. A study done in 2002, by researchers at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Illinois, found that resveratrol inhibited pancreatic cancer cell proliferation and caused programmed cell death. Researchers in that study concluded that resveratrol could be useful both for treating pancreatic cancer and for preventing it. Previous studies have shown that resveratrol may effectively activate “anti-aging” genes and protect against other cancers. It’s been found to induce apoptosis in breast, colon and liver cancer cells.
Who’s most at risk for pancreatic cancer? The list includes seniors, smokers, diabetics and people with high blood sugar, those who have chronic pancreatitis, men, African-Americans and people with a family history of the disease.
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: If you’re at risk for this deadly cancer, we recommend taking supplemental resveratrol. Exact amounts for preventing cancer aren’t yet established, but they will surely be at a higher level than what you can get from diet—even one that includes healthy amounts of red wine—alone. Resveratrol supplements allow you to get the antioxidant benefits of red wine, without the potentially negative effects of alcohol, which is especially important if you have chronic pancreatitis.
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Article updated on: December 3rd, 2008