Breast cancer is the leading cancer for women in the United States, with almost 125 cases per 100,000 women. Utah fares better than the national average, with just over 103 cases per 100,000 female residents.
Breast cancer is very treatable and the survival rates are exceptionally high when detected early. Unfortunately, Utah ranks last in the United States for breast cancer screenings among woman over 40 with insurance.
Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, chemotherapy, radiation or surgery may be employed as a treatment method.
Most breast cancers – about 75 to 80 percent – are estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive), meaning the hormone estrogen causes the breast tumor to grow. For this type of breast cancer, hormone therapy, such as the drug tamoxifen, is used to block the influence of hormones on tumor growth.
A high percentage of ER-positive breast cancers that initially respond to hormone therapy subsequently develop resistance. Therefore, agents that counteract this acquired resistance are essential in the battle against breast cancer.
According to new research published online ahead of print in the October 2011 edition of The FASEB Journal reports such an agent may exist in resveratrol. Resveratrol is an antioxidant derived from red wine and grapes.
Researchers at the University of Calabria in Italy tested the ability of resveratrol to inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation – rapid multiplication or growth of cancer cells.
What researchers found was that resveratrol exhibited a remarkable ability to reduce the growth of breast cancer cells, even when the cells had become tamoxifen-resistant.
Resveratrol is credited as the agent responsible for the French Paradox, wherein despite eating a diet very high in fat, the French have a lower incidence of heart disease than Americans. Scientists hypothesize this is a result of the high consumption of red wine by the French.
This study is the first to discover the ability of resveratrol to inhibit cancer progression in hormone-resistant breast cancer cells. In previous studies, resveratrol has been shown to prevent all three stages of cancer development – initiation, promotion and progression – with cancers of the breast, esophagus and colon.