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Anti-Cancer Activity from Natural Plants

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Grape Vines - Cliff Lede Winery
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Grape Vines - Cliff Lede Winery by Wikimedia Commons

Anti-Cancer Activity from Natural Plant Pterostilbenes

by Jeffrey Dach MD

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Epidemiological studies showing a diet high in fruits and vegetables reduced cancer risk sparked interest in commonly available foods as anti-cancer agents.

In 1997, Jang reported in Science  the anti-cancer effects of Resveratrol, present in grapes and berries, which then became the focus for interest as an anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging food supplement.

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Resveratrol Analogs

In recent years, a number of analogs of Resveratrol called stilbenes have been recognized as more suitable as anti-cancer agents.  In particular, Piceatannol a hydroxylated version of Resveratrol and Pterostilbene a methoxylated version of Resveratrol have been the focus of a flurry of research activity showing in-vitro and in- vivo considerable anti-cancer activity.  Pterostilbene is available at the vitamin store as a food supplement.  This article will explain and summarize some of these studies. Pterostilbene is available as a Nutritional Supplement.

The USDA Leads the Way

The USDA and the University of Mississippi have been studying Resveratrol analogs for more than a decade, and in 2002, reported inhibition of breast cancer in a mouse model (1).   This same group delved into the molecular biology of Pterostilbene's anti-cancer activity and came out with two important papers this year (in 2013) (4,5).

In the first paper, the authors examined the anti-cancer activity of various analogs of Resveratrol (Piceatannol, and 3M-Resveratrol)  in prostate cancer cells, both of which showed higher potency in inhibiting tumor progression compared to Resveratrol itself. They concluded that their "findings offer strong pre-clinical evidence for the utilization of dietary stilbenes, particularly 3M-Res, as novel, potent, effective chemopreventive agents in prostate cancer".(4)

Pterostilbene Is The Most Promising

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In their next study, Dr Li reports that Pterostilbene appears to be the most promising of the Resveratrol analogs, which significantly inhibited tumor growth, progression, local invasion and spontaneous metastasis in a mouse model of prostate cancer.  (5)

Additional studies have been done on other cancers such as  Lung Cancer (7,10) Breast Cancer  (8,9,11,16)  Colon Cancer (13) skin cancer (20) and  Leukemia (17).

Conclusion:  Pterostilbene is a compound found in grapes and berries which have striking anti-cancer activity in animal models through mechanisms elucidated by modern molecular biology.  These are not drugs.  Rather, they are safe food supplements available at the vitamin store without a prescription.  Other health benefits such as blood sugar control, lipid control and blood pressure modulation will be the topic for part two of this series.

Articles with related interest:

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Jeffrey Dach MD is a physician and author of two books, Natural Medicine 101, and Bioidentical Hormones 101, both available on Amazon, or as a free e-book on his web sites. Dr. Dach is founder and chief medical officer of TrueMedMD, a clinic in (more...)

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