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Resveratrol May Prove Beneficial for Women’s Health

By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, November 24, 2009, abstracted from “Effects of diverse dietary phytoestrogens on cell growth, cell cycle and apoptosis in estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer cells” printed online in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, published online ahead of print: doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2009.06.010

Menopause is a natural part of aging in women between the ages of 45 and 55. It is characterized by a drop in estrogen levels, with symptoms that include hot flashes, fatigue, and weight gain, and health risks that include osteoporosis (1).  In an effort to counter menopause symptoms, many women try hormone replacement therapy.  But studies in 2002 (2) and 2004 (3) found that hormone replacement therapy increases risks for both cancer and deep vein thrombosis.

Women have then turned to alternative methods in the form of phytoestrogens, natural plant substances in plants that exert weak estrogen-like effects in the body.  While there is “limited evidence” showing red clover’s benefit for menopause symptoms and breast cell health (4), more definitive evidence has been found for soybeans and soy products, due to their phytoestrogens daidzein, genistein and glycitein and their associations with reduced breast cancer risk in China (5), the Netherlands (6) and Japan (7).  Now a new study (8) has found that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, may be beneficial for breast cell health.

In the study, researchers found that exposing the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7 to resveratrol (0.00005 moles) produced two very important beneficial effects in breast cancer cells.  The first was a “significantly enhanced” activity of an anti-tumor protein called p53.  Specifically, p53 activity in the resveratrol-treated cells more than doubled, compared to cancer cells not treated with resveratrol.  The second benefit regarded the activity of a protein called Bcl-2, whose increased activity has been implicated in cancer (9).  Specifically, resveratrol reduced Bcl-2 activity by 23%.

These results led the researchers to conclude that “resveratrol might be the most promising candidate for HRT and chemoprevention of breast cancer due to its estrogenic activity and high antitumor activity.”

Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Danville, CA.  You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at mailto:PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.CompleteChiropracticHealthcare.com


1. “Menopause” posted on www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000894.htm
2. Rossouw, J.E., et al., Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: principal results From the Women's Health Initiative randomized controlled trial. Jama, 2002. 288(3): p. 321-33.
3. Cushman, M., et al., Estrogen plus progestin and risk of venous thrombosis. Jama, 2004. 292(13): p. 1573-80
4. N.L. Booth, C.E. Piersen, S. Banuvar, S.E. Geller, L.P. Shulman and N.R. Farnsworth, Clinical studies of red clover (Trifolium pratense) dietary supplements in menopause: a literature review, Menopause 13 (2006), pp. 251–264.
5. Q. Dai, A.A. Franke, F. Jin, X.O. Shu, J.R. Hebert and L.J. Custer et al., Urinary excretion of phytoestrogens and risk of breast cancer among Chinese women in Shanghai, Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 11 (2002), pp. 815–821
6. M. Verheus, C.H. van Gils, L. Keinan-Boker, P.B. Grace, S.A. Bingham and P.H.M. Peeters, Plasma phytoestrogens and subsequent breast cancer risk, J Clin Oncol 25 (2007), pp. 648–655
7. M. Iwasaki, M. Inoue, T. Otani, S. Sasazuki, N. Kurahashi and T. Miura et al., Plasma isoflavone level and subsequent risk of breast cancer among Japanese women: a nested case–control study from the Japan Public Health Center-based prospective study group, J Clin Oncol 26 (2008), pp. 1677–1683
8. Sakamoto T. Effects of diverse dietary phytoestrogens on cell growth, cell
cycle and apoptosis in estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer cells.  Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.  Published online ahead of print: doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2009.06.010
9. Marek L.  Apoptotic Pathways as Targets for Novel Therapies in Cancer and Other Diseases.  Springer Science+Business Media 2005.