Resveratrol is a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound found in a variety of foods, especially red grapes. While resveratrol is probably best known for its potential heart health benefits, it has been reported that it might have numerous health benefits including weight loss and cancer risk reduction. The possible health benefits of resveratrol appear to be due to its ability to work through multiple mechanisms ; however, its ability to fight breast cancer is not well understood.
A recent breast cancer study published online ahead of print in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment explored the impact of resveratrol on lipid (fat) production in breast cancer stem-like cells. These breast cancer stem-like cells were collected from both estrogen receptor-positive (ER[+]) and estrogen receptor-negative (ER[+]) breast cancer cells and treated with resveratrol in a cell culture system. Changes in breast cancer cell growth, cell death, lipid production, and more were analyzed. The breast cancer researchers reported
Resveratrol treatment reduced breast cancer cell growth in both ER[+] and ER[-] breast cancer cells.
The formation of breast cancer tumor-like structures was suppressed by resveratrol.
Resveratrol stimulated the programmed cell death of breast cancer cells in culture through the activation of genes involved in cell death.
Resveratrol inhibited a gene (fatty acid synthase) involved in the production of lipids in breast cancer cells thereby reducing lipid production.
When breast cancer stem-like cells were transplanted to mouse, resveratrol treatment suppressed their ability to grow.
This breast cancer cell culture study continues to suggest that resveratrol has cancer fighting properties; however, the vast majority of research on resveratrol and breast cancer has been done in cell culture systems and animal models of breast cancer. There remains a need for additional breast cancer research in human volunteers. One of the particularly interesting aspects of this study was the ability of resveratrol to reduce lipid production in the breast cancer cells. As I mentioned in one of last week's blogs , lipids like cholesterol are used by breast cancer tumors to enhance blood vessel and tumor growth. Therefore, blocking lipid synthesis might be an effective approach to fighting breast cancer. Additionally, it is interesting that this study was done in stem-like cells. Breast cancer stem cells are capable of self-renewal, have been reported to drive tumor formation and metastasis, and are resistant to breast cancer treatments. Therefore, treatments that could target and effectively inhibit these stem cells could have important applications in future breast cancer treatments.