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Bowel Cancer Cure: Grape Compounds Can Kill Colon Cancer Stem Cells, Research Shows

A photo of grapes hanging on a vine during harvest at the Lerkekasa vineyard in Norway.
A photo of grapes hanging on a vine during harvest at the Lerkekasa vineyard in Norway. |

Compounds found in grape seeds and skins can reportedly kill colon cancer stem cells in mice as well as in a petri dish, opening a new avenue of research to finding treatments that could prevent bowel cancer.

According to a report by Penn State, Jairam K.P. Vanamala, the associate professor of food sciences of the university, said that resveratrol — a powerful antioxidant present in grape skins and seeds — could someday lead to treatments that could help in the prevention of colon cancer.

"The combination of resveratrol and grape seed extract is very effective at killing colon cancer cells," Vanamala said, who is also part of the faculty of Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute. "And what we're learning is the combination of these compounds is not toxic to healthy cells."

The researchers published their findings in an issue of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and they suggested that the results of the study could lead to more extensive research and studies that could clinically test resveratrol on human colon cancer.

If proven effective without any adverse effects, the compounds could be manufactured into a pill that will thwart risks of developing colon cancer and also decrease the likelihood of the disease recurring among survivors of this illness.

"We are particularly interested in targeting stem cells because, according to cancer stem-cell theory, cancerous tumors are driven by cancer stem cells," Vanamala explained. "Cancer stem cells are capable of self-renewal, cellular differentiation and maintain their stem cell-like characteristics even after invasion and metastasis," he continued.

As for the conducted animal study, it was found that the incidence of tumors was reduced by 50 percent among the mice which consumed the grape compounds.

The researchers also revealed that taking resveratrol and grape seed extract in low doses and separately are not as effective in the suppression of cancer stem cells compared to when they are combined and taken together. And if proven in human trials, these compounds can be consumed through available drug supplements.

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