A new study has reported that while resveratrol alone has weak anti-cancer effects, it increases the effectiveness of both Taxotere (docetaxel) and Adriamycin (doxorubicin) in breast cancer cells. Resveratrol is a phytoestrogen found in red grapes, blueberries and cranberries. Resveratrol is also a strong antioxidant and is thought to have chemopreventive properties. In fact, some recent studies have reported that resveratrol has potential as treatment for several types of cancer.

In the study, the authors evaluated interactive characteristics of resveratrol with Taxotere and Adriamycin and further investigated the molecular bases of this interaction in cells of three different solid tumor lines: MCF-7 (breast cancer); HeLa (derived from cervical cancer); and HepG2 (liver).

Resveratrol alone was found to have modest anti-cancer properties, with relatively low potency in all three cancer cell lines. The IC50 is the concentration at which a biological response is reduced by half, i.e., how much of a drug or chemical it takes to inhibit a given biological process by 50%. Adriamycin had IC50 ranging from 0.48 to 0.72 ýM and Taxotere from 25.9 to 77.8 nM in the cancer cell lines However, combining resveratrol with Adriamycin or Taxotere significantly increased their potencies (IC50 (Adriamycin+resveratrol) ranged from 0.12 to 0.34 ýM; IC50 (Taxotere+resveratrol) ranged from 7.2 to 53.02 nM). Further analysis confirmed synergistic interactions between resveratrol and Adriamycin or Taxotere in MCF-7 breast cancer cells, and additive interactions in HeLa and HepG2 cells. Expression of the multi-drug resistance gene (mdr1) was downregulated after treatment with resveratrol plus Adriamycin or Taxotere in all tested cell lines. The authors conclude that resveratrol potentiates cytotoxic properties of both Taxotere and Adriamycin by increasing their intracellular levels.

Comments regarding the study

We urge those undergoing chemotherapy to consume foods such as red grapes, blueberries and cranberries to obtain resveratrol rather than consuming it in supplement form. Safe and effective dosages of resveratrol have not been established. Taking it in concentrated form separate from the other nutrients found in foods could have unintended adverse effects. For example, the second study below reported that resveratrol alone promoted mammary tumor growth and metastasis in a mouse model of estrogen receptor negative (ER-) breast cancer whereas it inhibited it in combination with quercetin and catechin (other grape polyphenols).

Please see our article on how to optimize your breast cancer diet for information on what to eat during all stages of treatment and recovery.