Resveratrol in cancer diseases

Quite a few wine drinkers justify their vice with the supposed or real health benefits of a special substance: resveratrol. The substance was first discovered in 1940 by the Japanese Taoka in the plant Veratrum grandiflorum [1] . In compounds with the initial syllable Res-, derived from resorcinols, to which Resveratrol chemically belongs, its name arose. In 1976, the substance was found in grapes.

Belief in the possible health benefits of wine, and especially red wine, goes back to the so-called French paradox. Despite higher consumption of alcohol and fat, the French appear to live longer than Germans or Americans and die less often from cardiovascular disease [2] . Although the paradox may be based on statistical errors, the health-promoting effect of resveratrol is indisputable.

In the plant, resveratrol, which belongs to polyphenols, has the task of protecting against pests and fungi. The content in grapes varies greatly depending on weather conditions and depending on the grape variety. The Pinot Noir variety contains the most resveratrol, especially if it is grown organically, as there is no chemical control of harmful effects. Thanks to the production process, which involves processing the skins and stems into a mash, red wine contains on average seven times the amount of white wine and 53 times the amount of grape juice. It is used as a dietary supplement to ensure a stable supply of resveratrol.

Resveratrol has many effects. In cell and animal experiments, it has, for example, an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic and life-prolonging effect, possibly acting against cardiovascular diseases, cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease.

So-called free radicals are created by UV light and pollutants. They are chemical compounds, often oxygen radicals, that bind to molecules, destroying them or impairing their function. They are responsible for many diseases and cell aging. Antioxidants are able to eliminate these free radicals. This happens in the resveratrol molecule through the so-called hydroxyl groups, which are especially suitable for trapping oxidizing substances. Oxygen radicals that are created inside the cell and near the cellular power plants, the mitochondria, are especially harmful. Resveratrol [3] is particularly effective here. It also activates enzymes that deactivate free radicals, such as superoxide dismutase.

The so-called "bad" cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, can accumulate in the blood vessels of aging people. This is done by oxidation of LDL using copper ions. Resveratrol on the one hand prevents oxidation and on the other hand binds copper and can thus prevent arteriosclerosis in two ways. [4]

There is probably no disease in the human body in which inflammation does not play a role. Therefore, anti-inflammatory drugs play a central role in pharmacology. The key enzyme is cyclooxygenase, which leads to the formation of inflammatory messengers. Unfortunately, drugs known as cyclooxygenase inhibitors have side effects that are more severe than desirable. Fortunately, resveratrol also binds to cyclooxygenase and inhibits inflammation without corresponding adverse effects. The second key enzyme involved in inflammation is NO synthase, which attacks cell walls by producing nitric oxide. Here, too, resveratrol worsens its formation and effect [6].

Resveratrol in the treatment of cancer

Cancer is, among other things, a chronic inflammatory disease. It is not surprising that, for the reasons mentioned above, resveratrol is also an important substance there. Inflammation, in turn, activates a molecule that is one of the most important substances in the cancer process: the so-called transcription factor NF-κB (pronounced En-Ef-Kappa-B). Transcription factors help the cell read certain stretches of DNA and produce the corresponding proteins. NF-κB is involved in all important processes of tumor development, from initiation, development, blood vessel formation, inhibition of the immune system to metastasis. Fortunately, resveratrol also inhibits this black knight of cancer [7]., as the Canadian doctor Servan-Schreiber called it in his anti-cancer book. In addition, it interacts with various metabolic pathways or messengers such as mTor, cytochrome p450, tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin 17 and others, all important for cancer development [8] .

The age-old dream of mankind, if not infinite, is at least to live longer. Can resveratrol have an effect here? Various studies have shown that fasting or a low-calorie diet can extend life [9]. It does this by activating repair proteins called sirtuins, which repair DNA damage and therefore prolong its survival. Cell experiments and animal models have shown that resveratrol can also lead to increased production of these sirtuins [10]. Resveratrol can extend life without starving you. But what good is a long life without a functioning mind? Resveratrol comes into play again: it seems to help the brain break down so-called β-amyloid, which accumulates in Alzheimer's disease [11].

In addition, however, it is possible to test possible effectiveness on the relevant tumor cells patient.

Like curcumin, resveratrol is a substance that does not dissolve in water. Basically like this it is more difficult for substances to reach the blood through the intestine, and it is difficult to achieve good active levels in the body by oral administration only. However, high effective levels are particularly important in cancer diseases. Fortunately, resveratrol has been available as an infusion solution for several years.


Resveratrol is a biological compound that appears to be effective for a variety of conditions including cancer, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, and may also extend life.


  • [1]Michio Takaoka: The Phenolic Substances of White Hellebore (Veratrum Grandiflorum Loes. Fill). V. In: Nippon Kagaku Kaishi. 61, Nr. 10, 1940, S. 1067–1069. doi:10.1246/nikkashi1921.61.1067..
  • [2] OECD HEALTH DATA Nov. 2010
  • [3] Leonard, S., et al., Resveratrol scavenges reactive oxygen species and effects radical-induced cellular responses. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 309 (2003) 1017-1026.
  • [4] Bird JK, Raederstorff D, Weber P, Steinert RE. Cardiovascular and Antiobesity Effects of Resveratrol Mediated through the Gut Microbiota. Adv Nutr. 2017 Nov 15;8(6):839-849. doi: 10.3945/an.117.016568. PMID: 29141969; PMCID: PMC5682996.
  • [5] Diaz-Gerevini GT, Repossi G, Dain A, Tarres MC, Das UN, Eynard AR. Beneficial action of resveratrol: How and why? Nutrition. 2016 Feb;32(2):174-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2015.08.017. Epub 2015 Sep 25. PMID: 26706021.
  • [6] Wang Z, Yan Y, Wang Y, Tong F. The interaction between CSE/H2S and the iNOS/NO-mediated resveratrol/poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(phenylalanine) complex alleviates intestinal ischemia/reperfusion injuries in diabetic rats. Biomed Pharmacother. 2019 Apr;112:108736. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2019.108736. Epub 2019 Feb 28. PMID: 30970526.
  • [7] Diaz-Gerevini GT, Repossi G, Dain A, Tarres MC, Das UN, Eynard AR. Beneficial action of resveratrol: How and why? Nutrition. 2016 Feb;32(2):174-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2015.08.017. Epub 2015 Sep 25. PMID: 26706021.
  • [8] Diaz-Gerevini GT, Repossi G, Dain A, Tarres MC, Das UN, Eynard AR. Beneficial action of resveratrol: How and why? Nutrition. 2016 Feb;32(2):174-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2015.08.017. Epub 2015 Sep 25. PMID: 26706021.
  • [9] Wei M, Brandhorst S, Shelehchi M, Mirzaei H, Cheng CW, Budniak J, Groshen S, Mack WJ, Guen E, Di Biase S, Cohen P, Morgan TE, Dorff T, Hong K, Michalsen A, Laviano A, Longo VD. Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Sci Transl Med. 2017 Feb 15;9(377):eaai8700. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aai8700. PMID: 28202779; PMCID: PMC6816332.
  • [10] Sheng W, Lu Y, Mei F, Wang N, Liu ZZ, Han YY, Wang HT, Zou S, Xu H, Zhang X. Effect of Resveratrol on Sirtuins, OPA1, and Fis1 Expression in Adult Zebrafish Retina. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2018 Sep 4;59(11):4542-4551. doi: 10.1167/iovs.18-24539. PMID: 30208422.
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