Monday, April 7, 2008

Resveratrol Does It Again

Seriously, how can we not love this stuff? The potent little antioxidant has been hailed for years as anti-inflammatory, anti- atherogenic and even anti-cancer. And, as for the cancer part, the news just keeps getting better. Research out of the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that resveratrol is doubly effective in treating the exceptionally problematic pancreatic cancer.

Resveratrol can help destroy pancreatic cancer cells by reaching to the cell’s core energy source, or mitochondria, and crippling its function. The discovery is critical because, like the cell nucleus, the mitochondria contains its own DNA and has the ability to continuously supply the cell with energy when functioning properly. Stopping the energy flow theoretically stops the cancer. The new study also showed that when the pancreatic cancer cells were doubly assaulted — pre-treated with the antioxidant, resveratrol, and irradiated — the combination induced a type of cell death called apoptosis, an important goal of cancer therapy. In fact, the research suggests resveratrol not only reaches its intended target, injuring the nexus of malignant cells, but at the same time protects normal tissue from the harmful effects of radiation.

In the words of lead author, Paul Okunieff, “Resveratrol seems to have a therapeutic gain by making tumor cells more sensitive to radiation and making normal tissue less sensitive.” Resveratrol’s sabotage of the cell’s energy flow is also especially important for chemotherapy because it decreases the cell’s ability to simply “pump” out administered chemotherapy treatment.

The results themselves are fascinating and promising for those who face the difficulty of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. But we also found ourselves talking about the broader context of this research: the power of a natural antioxidant as a complementary therapy with a conventional treatment.

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