Grape Seed Extract Treats Aggressive Colorectal Cancer

When the going gets tough, grape seed extract gets going: A study shows that the more advanced are colorectal cancer cells, the more grape seed extract inhibits their growth and survival. On the other end of the disease spectrum, grape seed extract leaves healthy cells alone entirely.

“We’ve known for quite a while that the bioactive compounds in grape seed extract selectively target many types of cancer cells. This study shows that many of the same mutations that allow colorectal cancer cells to metastasize and survive traditional therapies make them especially sensitive to treatment with grape seed extract,” says researcher Molly Derry.

Grape Seed Extract Treats Aggressive Colorectal Cancer
Grape Seed Extract Treats Aggressive Colorectal Cancer

Derry notes this is an especially important finding in light of increasing colorectal cancer rates (due in part to increasingly high-fat diets and sedentary lifestyles) and a low screening rate; that means 60 percent of patients diagnosed have already reached the advanced stage of the disease.

“Finding a way to selectively target advanced colorectal cancer cells could have major clinical importance,” Derry says.

The researchers performed their experiments on colorectal cancer cell lines representing various stages of the disease. Whereas it generally takes much more chemotherapy to kill a stage IV cancer cell than a stage II cancer cell, Derry saw that the reverse was true with grape seed extract.

“It required less than half the concentration of grape seed extract to suppress cell growth and kill 50 percent of stage IV cells than it did to achieve similar results in the stage II cells,” Derry says.

The researchers also discovered a likely mechanism of grape seed extract’s preferential targeting of advanced colorectal cancer cells: when cancer cells were treated with antioxidants the grape seed extract induced cell death was reversed and so Derry and colleagues consider it likely that grape seed extract targets colorectal cancer through inducing oxidative stress that leads to the programmed cell death known as apoptosis.

“A colorectal cancer cell can have upwards of 11,000 genetic mutations – differences from the DNA in healthy cells. Traditional chemotherapies may only target a specific mutation and as cancer progresses more mutations occur. These changes can result in cancer that is resistance to chemotherapy. In contrast, the many bioactive compounds of grape seed extract are able to target multiple mutations. The more mutations a cancer presents, the more effective grape seed extract is in targeting them,” Derry says.

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