What is Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant that is produced by some plants to protect against environmental stresses. It is more commonly known, however, as the active ingredient in red wine that protects against heart disease. An upcoming study shows that Resveratrol has several health benefits.
According to Australian researcher Lindsay Brown, the author an upcoming Resveratrol study, ?The breadth of benefits [of Resveratrol] is remarkable ? cancer prevention, protection of the heart and brain from damage, reducing age-related diseases such as inflammation, reversing diabetes and obesity, and many more...It has long been a question as to how such a simple compound could have these effects but now the puzzle is becoming clearer with the discovery of the pathways, especially the sirtuins, a family of enzymes that regulate the production of cellular components by the nucleus.?
Further, "...Resveratrol turns on the cell's own survival pathways, preventing damage to individual cells," and Resveratrol ?removes very reactive oxidants in the body and improves blood supply to cells.? Moreover, ?...low-dose Resveratrol produces cellular protection and reduces damage, while high-dose Resveratrol prevents cancers."
How Does Resveratrol Fight Cancer Cells?
Resveratrol fights cancer cells in numerous ways. As mentioned in the Life Extension section of this site, Resveratrol activates the sirtuin enzyme, SIRT1, which acts as guardian of cells’ DNA and gene expression. Similarly, Resveratrol, as a powerful antioxidant, neutralizes free radicals (Free radicals can lead to cancer by causing mutations in a cell’s DNA or by promoting inflammation). Finally, Resveratrol promotes apoptosis of cancer cells - a natural process whereby cells are preprogrammed to die. Resveratrol promoted apoptosis is especially important considering cancer often disables a cell’s tumor suppressor gene, P53, leaving the cell without a means to protect itself.
What Types of Cancer Might Resveratrol Fight?
Currently, studies are underway to determine the specific types of cancer Resveratrol fights as well the effective dosages and methods of administration (e.g. oral, intravenous, or topical) for each type of cancer. Solid evidence from studies already completed, however, reveal Resveratrol’s promise in fighting skin cancer and breast cancer.
Resveratrol applied topically has exhibited promising results in the prevention of skin cancer. Specifically, when Resveratrol was applied to the skin of hairless mice prior to UVB (solar) radiation exposure, the mice were inflicted with less skin tumors than mice not applied Resveratrol. Further, Resveratrol applied to the skin of hairless mice after UVB exposure also helped to prevent skin tumors.
Resveratrol prevents the first step that occurs when estrogen begins the process that leads to breast cancer. Resveratrol also strongly inhibits BRCA1-mutant tumor growth.
Studies have revealed high doses of Resveratrol reduce the weight of laboratory mice fed high calorie diets. To accomplish this, it is believed Resveratrol activates the SIRT1enzyme which, in turn, improves the efficiency and increases the number of mitochondria in the body’s cells. These improved and ‘increased’ mitochondria (as the body’s ‘power plants’) burn more energy than before the Resveratrol was taken. The result is that fat is consumed in skeletal muscles, the liver, and brown adipose tissue – promoting weight loss (as well as healthier livers and tissue).
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Several studies have revealed that Resveratrol reduces the risk of heart disease in animal models. The reasons for Resveratrol’s cardio-protective effects are numerous.
Resveratrol lowers ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can build up in the lining of coronary arteries (also known as atherosclerosis), restricting or blocking blood flow and causing heart attacks.
Resveratrol is anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is a contributing factor to fatty deposits building up in the lining of arteries, thereby fully or partially blocking blood flow.
Resveratrol prevents blood clots from forming. Blood clots can partially or fully block coronary arteries (the arteries that supply the heart with blood), thereby causing heart attacks. Resveratrol also reduces atrial fibrillation – a condition where the top chambers of the heart flutter following a heart attack. Atrial fibrillation sometimes results in blood clots which can cause heart attacks.
Neutralizes Free Radicals
As a powerful antioxidant, Resveratrol neutralizes free radicals. Free radicals are molecules (caused by the body’s natural metabolic processes and environmental toxins) that can damage cells – including heart and artery cells.
So how does Resveratrol increase endurance? Resveratrol, a sirtuin activator, increases the number of mitochondria in the cells of animals and humans. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells (i.e. they are responsible for generating the cell’s energy). Not surprisingly, people with above average levels of mitochondria, such as cyclist Lance Armstrong, have above average levels of endurance.
Illustrating Resveratrol’s effect on endurance, a recent study revealed that Resveratrol fed mice have twice the endurance as mice not fed Resveratrol (In the study, the Resveratrol fed mice ran 100% farther than those not fed Resveratrol).
The Resveratrol fed mice also experienced ‘energy charged’ muscles and a low heart rate - characteristics linked with world class athletes. According to the study's lead scientist, Johan Auwerx, “Resveratrol makes you look like a trained athlete without the training”.