A common dietary supplement and an ingredient of red wine, resveratrol has been found in new research to suppress the abnormal cell formation that leads to most types of breast cancer. This suggests a potential role for the agent in breast cancer prevention.
As you know from reading this site, resveratrol is a natural substance found in red wine and red grapes. It is sold in extract form as a dietary supplement at many stores and internet shops. Unfortunately, some brands of resveratrol do not have the listed ingredient as promised on the bottle (as an example, one report found that Life Extension brand had only a fraction of its promised resveratrol).
“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.
Rogan was the lead author of this report, published in the July 2008 issue of Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Rogan and colleagues measured the effect of resveratrol on cellular functions known to contribute to breast cancer.
Scientists know that many breast cancers are fueled by increased estrogen, which collects and reacts with DNA molecules to form what are called "adducts." Rogan and colleagues found that resveratrol was able to suppress the formation of these DNA adducts.
The work was done with fairly low concentrations of resveratrol to stop the formation of these DNA adducts. Although researchers experimented with up to 100 µmol/L of resveratrol, the suppression of DNA adducts was seen with 10 µmol/L. A glass of red wine contains between 9 and 28 µmol/L of resveratrol.
The current study was conducted in laboratory cultures, and will need to be confirmed in larger human trials.