Eating grapes improves the anticancer effects of paclitaxel, according to study

Natural healing substances work well enough on their own. But some of them can combine their effects to further increase the benefits they provide. For example, a Chinese study reported that the plant-based anti-cancer drug Paclitaxel can get a boost if you eat red grapes and other foods that are rich in the polyphenol called resveratrol.

Natural cancer chemopreventive agents are known to be effective, have little toxicity, and relieve the pain of cancer patients. Their activity is lower than synthetic drugs, but combining two or more natural cancer inhibitor improves the treatment effect.

Paclitaxel is derived from the Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia), a conifer tree native to the Pacific Northwest. It stops the growth of cancer cells and even causes them to undergo apoptosis. It also rallies the immune system to defend the body against cancer. Studies and clinical tests have demonstrated paclitaxel’s effectiveness against different kinds of cancer. However, it is not water-soluble and has some toxic side effects.

Its unexpected partner is resveratrol, a natural polyphenol that possesses significant benefits of its own. Found in grapes, Japanese knotweed, and peanuts, its most notable capability is to act as a natural cancer inhibitor. (Related: Could this native Mexican plant be the next cancer cure?)

Testing the combination of resveratrol and paclitaxel

Researchers have been looking for ways to improve the absorption and effectiveness of paclitaxel while also reducing its toxicity. A Central South University (CSU) research team investigated the combination of paclitaxel and resveratrol as a joint anticancer treatment.

The researchers obtained human normal liver cell lines and their cancerous equivalents, human hepatoma cells. They cultured several groups of both cell types for testing.

Several groups received different doses of Paclitaxel. Other groups were also given resveratrol to see if the other substance could act as a sensitizing agent for Paclitaxel.

The CSU researchers conducted various tests to determine the effectiveness of Paclitaxel-only treatment and Paclitaxel-resveratrol joint treatment. They looked at the mechanisms by which the two treatment methods inhibited the growth of cancer cells or outright destroyed the hepatoma.

Finally, they determined the cytotoxicity of both substances in order to determine a safe yet effective dosage for treating cancer.

Resveratrol can make paclitaxel more effective at suppressing liver cancer

They reported that paclitaxel can improve the mRNA and protein expression of genes that cause HepG2 liver cancer cells to self-destruct. The addition of resveratrol was shown to improve the apoptotic effect.

Furthermore, the combination treatment improved the effect of the proteins like Bax, p53, and p21 that promote apoptosis in cancer cells. At the same time, they decreased the effect of the proteins and genes that prevented the self-destruction of cancer cells.

Paclitaxel and resveratrol also prevented other harmful proteins from causing the destruction of T lymphocyte cells, which could lead to immunosuppression that opens the door to other diseases and disorders.

Both paclitaxel and resveratrol demonstrated some toxic effects when given in high concentrations. However, their effect when taken together was much greater than paclitaxel-only treatment. Therefore, it was possible to reduce the amount of each substance to nontoxic levels while still achieving significant inhibition of cancer cell growth.

Given the results of their experiment, the CSU researchers concluded that resveratrol could be used as a sensitizing agent that improved the anticancer effects of paclitaxel on human liver cancer cells. Further studies could determine the most effective ratio of the two natural cancer inhibitors for treating.

In the meantime, you can always eat more red grapes. Remember to eat the skin as that has a lot of resveratrol.

Learn about more natural means of checking the growth of cancer cells at

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