Resveratrol: A Natural Alternative to HRT?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has drawn a lot of critics and skeptics. Many women who try HRT to get relief from menopause symptoms like hot flashes and sleep problems compain of side effects like weight gain and depression. Some research has shown that HRT may increase a women’s risk for conditions such as breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers.
Here’s another bit of news to add to the discussion: according to findings published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, resveratrol could be a safer alternative to HRT and could help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
The report indicates that resveratrol’s phytoestrogens—natural hormone-like plant substances that exert weak estrogen-like activity—may provide a safer, natural alternative to the estrogen provided during HRT. Researchers also found that resveratrol acted as a chemopreventive against breast cancer (known as a potential side effect of HRT) because of its strong antitumor activity.
But in most cases when change is suggested, there are conflicting views about whether these natural compounds can take the place of known pharmaceutical agents.
Consider what we do know:
1) Estrogens with or without progestin have been used for HRT in postmenopausal women, but they increase the risk of breast cancer.
2) Clinical trials have shown that phytoestrogen supplements such as soy isoflavones and red clover are safer, natural alternatives to HRT. However, the question of whether soy stimulates cancer cells is often asked, even though population studies have shown that women who eat a high-soy diet tend to have lower incidences of cancer.
In this particular study, researchers assessed the estrogen-like effects and antitumor effects of individual dietary phytoestrogens by analyzing their effects on tumor cell growth, cell cycle and apoptosis (programmed cell death). Even though genistein and glycitein (both found in soy), and resveratrol increased cell death and decreased cell growth and cycle, only reservatrol had a significant effect on reducing the ratio of hormones.
“Because it [resveratrol] stimulated the transcription of endogenous estrogen receptor (ER) and proapoptotic effects, this phytoestrogen is the most promising candidate as an HRT alternative and chemopreventive reagent for breast cancer,” researchers concluded. (Sakamoto T. et al. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. Published online ahead of print: doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2009.06.010)
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: We’ll have to wait as the science determines the fate of HRT and reservatrol has it relates to menopause relief. But in the meantime, take advantage the antioxidant power of resveratrol with a standardized supplement, and enjoy its research-confirmed benefits. You can drink wine to increase you resveratrol intake, but since some research has shown that even moderate alcohol consumption can promote breast cancer in women, we highly recommend taking a standardized supplement.
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Article updated on: January 13th, 2010