Resveratrol

Summary

Resveratrol's main contribution regarding cancer is in optimizing your body terrain—reducing inflammation and oxidative stress that are known to support cancer development and growth. It's used widely in integrative programs.

Resveratrol has shown limited anticancer action in clinical studies. Animal studies show resveratrol may reduce toxicity to the heart from doxorubicin and protect the lining of the digestive system from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

Resveratrol is found in grape skins and seeds, peanuts and other foods but is usually used as a supplement. Supplements are generally low-cost and widely available.

Cautions are noted about interactions with a few prescription drugs. Before using resveratrol, consult your oncology team about interactions with other treatments and therapies. Also make sure resveratrol is safe for use with any other medical conditions you may have.

Evidence of Effectiveness

Treating Cancer  1 star rating of 5

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Optimizing Your Body Terrain  3 star rating of 5

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Managing Side Effects  1 star rating of 5

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Reducing Cancer Risk  1 star rating of 5

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Use by Integrative Oncology Experts 4 star rating of 5

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Safety 4 star rating of 5

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Affordability and Ease of Access 5 star rating of 5

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Details and Evidence

Author

Nancy Hepp, MS, BCCT Project Manager

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Reviewer

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, BCCT Senior Researcher

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Last updated April 7, 2021.

Resveratrol is a polyphenol, a group of compounds thought to act as antioxidants in the body, reducing oxidative stress.

Although grape skin and seeds are rich in resveratrol, and red wine is a natural source, it is usually consumed as a dietary supplement. Other food sources of resveratrol include peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa and dark chocolate.

Treating the Cancer

Working against cancer growth or spread, improving survival, or working with other treatments or therapies to improve their anticancer action

Clinical Evidence

  • Increased markers of cell death (apoptosis) in cancerous liver tissue in patients with colorectal cancer and liver metastases1
  • Reduced tumor cell proliferation by 5 percent in a small study of colorectal cancer patients2

Lab and Animal Evidence

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Optimizing Your Terrain

Creating an environment within your body that does not support cancer development, growth or spread

Lab and Animal Evidence

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Managing Side Effects and Promoting Wellness

Managing or relieving side effects or symptoms, reducing treatment toxicity, supporting quality of life or promoting general well-being

Lab and Animal Evidence

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Reducing Risk

Reducing the risk of developing cancer or the risk of recurrence

Clinical Evidence

  • Resveratrol inhibited a major risk factor for colon cancer development in normal linings of the colon (colonic mucosa) but did not inhibit colon cancer in a small study of colon cancer patients.28 29

Lab and Animal Evidence

Cautions

The “About Herbs” description of resveratrol cautions patients with hormone-sensitive cancers about using resveratrol supplements. However, while resveratrol exhibits estrogen-like properties, neither of its metabolites do, and so metabolized resveratrol from foods does not display estrogen-mimicking activity in the body.32  Some clinicians actually suggest using resveratrol supplements in some estrogen-influenced cancers, such as uterine.33

Resveratrol promoted tumor growth and proliferation in luminal B breast cancer subtype models in mice34 and perhaps in other subtypes35

Resveratrol is generally well tolerated, although high doses can cause gastrointestinal disturbance. Resveratrol should not be used in conjunction with a few prescription drugs, including antiplatelet drugs, cytochrome P450 substrates and carbamazepine. Patients using any of these medications should consult a medical professional before using resveratrol.

Access

Resveratrol supplements are widely available in drug stores at generally low cost.

Dosing

BCCT does not recommend therapies or doses, but only provides information for patients and providers to consider as part of a complete treatment plan. Patients should discuss therapies with their physicians, as contraindications, interactions and side effects must be evaluated.

Levels of active ingredients of natural products can vary widely between and even within products. See Quality and Sources of Herbs, Supplements and Other Natural Products.

Dosage recommendations are available from these sources:

Integrative Programs, Protocols and Medical Systems

For more information about programs and protocols, see our Integrative Programs and Protocols page.

Non-cancer Uses of Resveratrol

Resveratrol is used in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and cardiovascular disease. It may protect the liver in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and it has increased insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients. Resveratrol has been applied topically to reduce acne. BCCT has not reviewed the effectiveness of this therapy for non-cancer uses.

Note: BCCT has not conducted an independent review of research of resveratrol. This summary draws from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s About Herbs and other sources as noted.

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