Resveratrol inhibits cancer stem cell renewal

Resveratrol inhibits cancer stem cell renewal

Resveratrol is a stilbene, a natural polyphenol compound produced when, for example, grape skins are under attack from moulds or fungi. It has been shown to have an anti-tumour and anti-cancer stem cell effect with various types of cancers.

According to research from Pandy PR et al. (1) resveratrol is capable of inducing apoptosis (cell death) in the cancer stem- like cells through altering the cells’ death code. 

Cancer stem cells lie at the heart of tumours; they seem resistant to all cancer drugs and are capable of self-renewal. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute showed that poor diets would cause the stem cells to regrow causing the tumour to come back but natural compounds in good foods (such as curcumin, piperine, resveratrol, EGCG, vitamin E and A, theanine, inositol, genestein) would stop this re-growth. 

Cancer stem cells can proliferate and self-renew extensively due to their ability to generate anti-cell death and even drug resistant proteins. Research from the University of Kansas (2) showed that resveratrol inhibited human pancreatic cancer stem cells and concluded that resveratrol could be used for the management of pancreatic cancer. 

But that’s not all. ‘Resveratrol may be a useful chemopreventative/chemotherapeutic agent for prostate cancer,’ according to early research from the American Association of Cancer Research 1999 (Dept of Urology and Biochemistry, Mayo Clinic).

Resveratrol inhibits androgen action in the LNCaP prostate cancer cell line and represses certain androgen genes, thus inhibiting androgen-stimulated cell growth and gene expression.  By 2012 researchers were showing it inhibited prostate cancer growth via the AKT pathway(3).

Other work by researchers at Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute (San Antonio, Texas) showed resveratrol can work with the immune system to inhibit blood supply to prostate tumours. 

And for breast cancer too; the New York Medical College in Valhalla published research in 2011 showing resveratrol, and a metabolite tri-acetyl-resveratrol, can inhibit breast cancer, whether oestrogen positive or negative (International Journal of Cancer Jan 2011). Resveratrol seems capable of extending the life of many cancer drugs(4) – this is just one of many benefits in a 2020 review on resveratrol, cancer and cancer stem cells.

In 2021, resveratrol was shown (5) to inhibit colon cancer when used alongside grape seed extract. In vitro this combination inhibited cancer stem cells renewal; in vivo with mice the combination reduced tumour growth by 50 per cent.

Several studies show that resveratrol’s action seems to be dose- and duration-dependant. At low doses there is a very little research that resveratrol may even encourage adult stem cells and cancer stem cells to re-grow but at higher doses, resveratrol repeatedly is found to inhibit cancer stem cell renewal.  

Go to: High dose Resveratrol may stabilise mild to moderate Alzheimer’s

Go to: Grape compounds suppress colon cancer


  1. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2011 Nov30(2)387-98
  2. Shankar S. Nall D, Tang S-N, Meeker D, Passarini J et al; PLoS One 2011, Jan 31; 6
  3. Sandeep Sheth et al; Southern Illinois Med Sch. PLoS1; 2012 7 (12) Resveratrol reduces prostate cancer growth
  4. Current research in food science; Vol 3 Nov 2020; Vasanth K. Bhaskara et al. Resveratol, cancer and cancer stem cells
  5. Grape compounds reduce cancer stem cells and tumour growth


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