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Resveratrol: The Remarkable Anticancer Botanical

Posted by Manuela Boyle on 7 September 2022
Resveratrol: The Remarkable Anticancer Botanical

Resveratrol is a polyphenolic compound produced by plants in response to environmental stress and can be found in at least 72 plant species, such as mulberries, peanuts, cranberries, blueberries, and grapes

Resveratrol is a natural stilbene containing two aromatic rings linked together by a methylene double bond to form 3,4′,5-trihydroxystilbene. It exists in both cis- and trans- isoforms. The trans form is more stable and potent than the cis form.  

Studies have reported that resveratrol exhibits many wide ranges of activities, including antioxidant,  anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular protective, anti-aging, and anticancer properties 

Recently, several studies have focused on the anticancer properties of resveratrol, which revealed a high ability to target multiple pathways involved in cancer initiation, promotion, and progression.  

Firstly, the antioxidant effects of resveratrol contribute significantly to the health benefits of this phytochemical, since it can act as a scavenger of a number of free radicals. In addition, resveratrol increases the expression of various antioxidant enzymes, such as SOD, catalase (CAT), glutathione reductase (GS-R), (GPx), and glutathione S-transferase (GST). Thus, resveratrol, through these two antioxidant effects, protects cells from oxidative damage  Conversely, as chemotherapeutics, resveratrol in combination with certain drugs can enhance apoptosis-inducing oxidative stress via induction of ROS .

A second possible anticancer mechanism of resveratrol is related to kinases, which play a critical role in cell growth and proliferation and are typically over-expressed in many tumours. Resveratrol specifically targets many kinases, including EGF, extracellular-signal-regulated kinases (ERK), and VEGF, thus decreasing their expression and resulting in antigrowth signalling activity. 

A third suggested mechanism for the anticancer activity of resveratrol is related to its anti-inflammatory activity, since several types of cancer are, to some extent, promoted by a certain degree of systemic, low-grade chronic inflammation. Ren et al. have reported that resveratrol suppresses the inflammatory biomarker tumour necrosis factor α (TNF-α-)-induced signalling in a dose-dependent manner, both via nuclear factor kappa-B (NFκB) activation and transcriptional activity of p65. Furthermore, in colon cancer, resveratrol can help induce cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase. That was achieved by lowering cyclin E1 and cyclin D1 and increasing p53 in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, resveratrol treatment resulted in increasing p27 and p21 gene expression levels, as well as lowering cyclin B gene expression. In ovarian cancer cells, resveratrol has been shown to help inhibit proliferation and help induce apoptosis via inhibiting glycolysis and targeting the AMPK/mTOR signaling pathway. In pancreatic cancer cells, resveratrol help suppress the metastatic potential in vitro by modulating EMT-related factors via the PI3K/Akt/NF-κB signaling pathway.

If this was not encouraging enough, Lee et al. have demonstrated that resveratrol increases the expression of activating receptors on natural killer (NK) cells, an effect which could facilitate NK-cell-mediated killing of cancer cells

Finally, resveratrol shows a synergistic inhibitory effect on the proliferation of various cancer cells and improves the effect of many chemotherapeutic agents, such as temozolomide, cisplatin, doxorubicin, 5-fluorouracil, gemcitabine, docetaxel, and paclitaxel 

Resveratrol appears to be well tolerated, with no significant harm recorded against normal cells. Beware that not all products containing resveratrol are equally effective. To know more, ask us!


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Author:Manuela Boyle
Tags:NewsPrevention & RecoveryEvidence Based ResearchCancerHerbal Medicine


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • British Naturopathic Association