Grape seed extract kills colon cancer cells; mitigates chemotherapy effects.

grapesA study published in the PLOS ONE journal, by University of Adelaide researchers, has revealed that grape seed extract can kill colon cancer cells and reduce the impact of chemotherapy’s side effects.

The extract works by reducing intestinal damage caused by chemotherapy and enhances its impact on destroying cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact acting as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. The study consisted of exacting tannins from grape seeds which were then freeze dried and powdered, and applied to cultured laboratory colon cells.

The findings reveal that there were no side effects on the healthy intestine at concentrations of up to 1000mg/kg; significantly decreased intestinal damage compared to the chemotherapy control; decreased chemotherapy-induced inflammation by up to 55%; increased growth-inhibitory effects of chemotherapy on colon cancer cells in culture by 26%.

“This is the first study showing that grape seed can enhance the potency of one of the major chemotherapy drugs in its action against colon cancer cells,” said Dr. Amy Cheah, researcher in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.

“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.”

“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 Dr 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.”

Another study published in the journal Food Chemistry reveals that grape seeds and skins contain significant amounts of antixidants. Grape phenolics are known to act as anti-inflammatory agents, reducing the risk of certain cancers and preventing high blood pressure and heart disease.


Changmou Xu, Yavuz Yagiz, Wlodzimierz Borejsza-Wysocki, Jiang Lu, Liwei Gu, Milena M. Ramírez-Rodrigues, Maurice R. Marshall. Enzyme release of phenolics from muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia Michx.) skins and seeds. Food Chemistry, 2014; 157: 20 DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.01.128

Ker Yeaw Cheah, Gordon Stanley Howarth, Susan Elaine Putnam Bastian. Grape Seed Extract Dose-Responsively Decreases Disease Severity in a Rat Model of Mucositis; Concomitantly Enhancing Chemotherapeutic Effectiveness in Colon Cancer Cells. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (1): e85184 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085184

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