Grape Seed Extract Destroys Head and Neck Cancer Cells, Spares Healthy Cells

Both cell lines and mouse models reveal that grape seed extract kills head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells, while healthy cells are left alone. This is according to a study published in the journal Carcinogenesis.

According to study author Rajesh Agarwal, PhD, the effect is dependent on a healthy cell’s ability to wait out damage. He states, “It’s a rather dramatic effect. Cancer cells are fast-growing cells. Not only that, but they are necessarily fast growing. When conditions exist in which they can’t grow, they die.”

Grape seed extract helps to create the conditions that are unfavorable to cell growth. Specifically, Agarwal’s research demonstrates that grape seed extract both damages cancer cells’ DNA and blocks the pathways that allow repair.

Argawal adds, “Yet we saw absolutely no toxicity to the mice, themselves. Again, the grape seed extract killed the cancer cells but not the healthy cells. I think the whole point is that cancer cells have a lot of defective pathways and they are very vulnerable if you target those pathways. The same is not true of healthy cells.”

The Agarwal Lab hopes to move in the direction of clinical trials of grape seed extract. The investigators believe that grape seed extract holds promise as an addition to second-line therapies that target head and neck cancer after a failed first treatment.

In the United States, nearly 12,000 people will die of head and neck cancer this year. Worldwide, cases will exceed half a million.


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