Grape seed extracts may help fight bowel cancer

February 18, 2014

A study published in PLOS ONE shows that grape seed extracts may aid the effectiveness of chemotherapy in killing colon cancer cells as well as reducing the chemotherapy’s side effects. Lead author Amy Cheah says there is a growing body of evidence about the antioxidant health benefits of grape seed tannins or polyphenols as anti-inflammatory agents and, more recently, for their anti-cancer properties.

“Our research also showed that in laboratory studies grape seed taken orally significantly reduced inflammation and tissue damage caused by chemotherapy in the small intestine, and had no harmful effects on non-cancerous cells. Unlike chemotherapy, grape seed appears to selectively act on cancer cells and leave healthy cells almost unaffected,” said Cheah, Researcher at the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food, and Wine.

The researchers used commercially available grape seed extract, a by-product of winemaking. Tannins extracted from the grape seed were freeze-dried and powdered. The extract was tested in laboratory studies using colon cancer cells grown in culture.

The researchers found that grape seed extract showed no side effects on the healthy intestine at concentrations of up to 1000 mg/kg. In addition, it significantly decreased intestinal damage compared to the chemotherapy control, and decreased chemotherapy-induced inflammation by up to 55%. Finally, it increased growth-inhibitory effects of chemotherapy on colon cancer cells in culture by 26%.

“Our experimental studies have shown that grape seed extract reduced chemotherapy-induced inflammation and damage and helped protect healthy cells in the gastrointestinal tract,” said Cheah. “While this effect is very promising, we were initially concerned that grape seed could reduce the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. In contrast, we found that grape seed extract not only aided the ability of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells, but was also more potent than the chemotherapy we tested at one concentration.”

Press release