Can Red Wine Help Cure Prostate Cancer?

Love a glass of red wine with dinner? It's not only tasty but a compound it contains may also be good for your health—especially if you're a man dealing with prostate cancer.

Before you drink up, it's important to read on, though, since more research needs to be done to understand how to get the potential benefits of resveratrol to fight prostate cancer without experiencing side effects.

Resveratrol and Prostate Cancer

Michael Nicholl, an assistant professor of surgical oncology in the Missouri School of Medicine, recently discovered that a chemical called resveratrol that's commonly found in grape skins and red wine may help even the most difficult cases of prostate cancer to better respond to radiation therapy. In many people, radiation alone is an effective form of treatment. But Nicholl says that there are always some whose cancer doesn't respond or returns later. That's where the resveratrol seems to make a significant difference as a cure for prostate cancer.

Researching Prostate Cancer Therapy

In his research, which has appeared in the Journal of Andrology and Cancer Science, Nicholl isolated such cancer cell lines that are resistant to treatment in a petri dish and introduced resveratrol along with radiation. As many as 97 percent of the tumor cells were destroyed using this combination, and this benefit extended to even the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

Why Resveratrol and Prostate Cancer Are a Good Combination

The resveratrol and the radiation together seem to increase the activity of two proteins that are needed to kill the tumor cells, Nicholl explains. He adds that other studies have also found that resveratrol helps protect normal cells against the harm from the radiation therapy itself, adding a potential double benefit for patients.

There is one catch, though. Nicholl says that the resveratrol used in his study was given in very high doses. While this was fine for laboratory studies, he says that in animals and people the amount could be troublesome, potentially leading to bloating, diarrhea, and a host of other uncomfortable side effects.

Challenges Facing This Prostate Cancer Therapy

"Our challenge now is to determine how to get adequate doses to the tumor without causing other harm," Nicholl says. This means that more research still needs to be done on this topic so that scientists can find a way to incorporate their research into real benefits that won't make patients sick. However, he says that funding challenges can hamper progress, making it especially important that more people give to such important efforts.

 "With dwindling funds for research at the national level, it's more important than ever for people to support cancer research," he stresses. The work being done now and in the future can ultimately have widespread lifesaving effects.

A Cure for Prostate Cancer and Other Health Issues

Nicholl also points out that in addition to being a potential cure for prostate cancer, resveratrol also improves cardiovascular health and helps prevent strokes, making it a supplement that everyone can benefit from on some level.

That's why he advises patients to continue eating grapes and drinking wine in moderation so they can enjoy at least some of the resveratrol health benefits. In addition, resveratrol pills can be purchased at your local health food store and online if you want to take supplements.

Michael Nicholl reviewed this article.



Fang, Y, Herrick, E. J. , Nicholl, M. B. "A Possible Role for Perforin and Granzyme B in Resveratrol-Enhanced Radiosensitivity of Prostate Cancer." Journal of Andrology 33 (4) (2011): 752. Web. 18 Dec. 2012.

Fang, Yujiang, DeMarco, Vincent G., Nicholl, Michael B. "Resveratrol enhances radiation sensitivity in prostate cancer by inhibiting cell proliferation and promoting cell senescence and apoptosis." Cancer Science 103 (6) (2012): 1090. Web. 18 Dec. 2012.
10.1111/j.1349-7006.2012.02272.x "Compound in grapes, red wine could be key to fighting prostate cancer." 9 Nov. 2012. Web. 18 Dec. 2012.

Nicholl, Michael. Assistant professor of surgical oncology, Missouri School of Medicine. Phone interview 18 Dec. 2012.