Red Wine for Mesothelioma?


Patients battling mesothelioma may want to discuss with their licensed healthcare provider the idea of adding red wine to their treatment strategy. There’s new evidence that the component in red wine that has long been known to fight heart disease and some cancers may help do the same for malignant mesothelioma.

Resveratrol is a natural phenol derived from the skin of red grapes.  It has been linked to the “French affect” wherein the French appear to enjoy some cardiovascular protection against dietary fat. In recent years, resveratrol has also been the subject of numerous cancer studies.  The Korean study represents the first time resveratrol has been tested against mesothelioma, an especially virulent and hard-to-treat cancer.

To test the impact of resveratrol on malignant pleural mesothelioma cells, researchers treated cell samples in vitro (in the lab) with 0-60 µM doses. They found that, at 17 µM, the resveratrol interacts with a protein known as specificity protein 1 (Sp1) inside mesothelioma cells. Although resveratrol did not appear to suppress Sp1 levels in the nuclear microRNA, the suppression of Sp1 levels elsewhere in the mesothelioma cells prompted researchers to report, “Cell viability was decreased and apoptotic cell death was increased by resveratrol.” Resveratrol modulated the expression of Sp1 regulatory proteins including p21, p27, cyclin D1, Mcl-1 and survivin.

The impact of resveratrol was equally promising in lab mice.  Treated with 20 mg/kg of resveratrol daily for 4 weeks, mice with mesothelioma experienced suppression in the growth of their tumors and an increase in cancer cell death. In summarizing their results for the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, the Korean team concludes, “Our results strongly suggest that Sp1 is a novel molecular target of resveratrol in human malignant pleural mesothelioma.”

Such novel treatment strategies are especially important in mesothelioma, which is often resistant to standard treatments. About 2,500 Americans die from mesothelioma each year, as a result of asbestos exposure.  Mesothelioma rates are even higher in Korea where incidence of the disease is not expected to peak until 2045.

Before consuming wine or resveratrol to help manage mesothelioma or any other disease be sure to speak with your licensed healthcare provider.


Lee, KA et al, “The flavonoid resveratrol suppresses growth of human malignant pleural mesothelioma cells through direct inhibition of specificity protein 1”,  April 23, 2012, International Jounral of Molecular Medicine, Epub ahead of print.

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