New Study Shows Grape Seed Extract Kills Head and Neck Cancer Cells

Head and neck cancer, the 6th most common malignancy among men worldwide, kills close to 12,000 Americans every year. 

Those who survive have a high chance of recurrence, and only about ½ of them are still alive 5 years after the diagnosis.  Important risk factors include the use of tobacco, alcohol, and to a lesser extent, infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV).  Some of the early signs and symptoms include a persistent sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty or pain with swallowing, and a sore in the mouth or throat that does not heal.

Famous people purported to have been affected by head and neck cancer include the 18th president Ulysses S. Grant, actor Humphrey Bogart, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, baseball great Babe Ruth, TV producer Aaron Spelling, actor Jack Klugman, singer Eddie Van Halen, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., and actor Michael Douglas.

A new study, published in the January 19, 2012 issue of the journal Carcinogenesis, reported that grape seed extract, killed head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) in mice. The study showed that when grape seed extract was fed to mice infected with the cancer cells, there was both damage to the cancer cells’ DNA and a decrease in the ability of the cancer cells to repair themselves. In addition, it appeared the healthy cells suffered no damage.  The researchers surmised that the healthy cells may have been unharmed because cancer cells have many defective pathways while healthy do not.  This difference may have allowed the grape seed extract to target some of these defective pathways found in the cancer cells.

The researchers are now looking at starting clinical trials in humans.

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