Monday, July 28, 2008

Resveratrol and cancer

I suppose some readers here may be getting tired of the news flow on resveratrol. The substance may not actually live up to all the hype. But it surely does seem to have quite a variety of beneficial properties. (Most recent previous note is here.) The latest thing resveratrol seems to do is help reduce cancer risk – and a specific mechanism of action has been identified:

Cancer Preventive Properties Identified In Resveratrol, Found In Red Wine, Red Grapes (7/7/08)
Early laboratory research has shown that resveratrol, a common dietary supplement, suppresses the abnormal cell formation that leads to most types of breast cancer, suggesting a potential role for the agent in breast cancer prevention. Resveratrol is a natural substance found in red wine and red grapes. It is sold in extract form as a dietary supplement at most major drug stores.

"Resveratrol has the ability to prevent the first step that occurs when estrogen starts the process that leads to cancer by blocking the formation of the estrogen DNA adducts. We believe that this could stop the whole progression that leads to breast cancer down the road," said Eleanor G. Rogan, Ph.D., a professor in the Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The reason that estrogen plays a role in breast cancer is that it has a tendency to bind to DNA. (That's what "DNA adduct" refers to.) This binding can damage the DNA, and plausibly may interfere with the expression of genes needed for protection against cancer. Resveratrol seems to interfere with adduct formation:
The formation of breast cancer is a multi-step process which differs depending on type of disease, a patient's genetic makeup and other factors. However, scientists know that many breast cancers are fueled by increased estrogen, which collects and reacts with DNA molecules to form adducts. Rogan and colleagues found that resveratrol was able to suppress the formation of these DNA adducts. ...

Rogan said resveratrol works by inducing an enzyme called quinone reductase, which reduces the estrogen metabolite back to inactive form. By making estrogen inactive, resveratrol decreases the associated risk.

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