Resveratrol may help prevent bladder cancer and relieve the pain from advanced bladder cancer.

Study results are mixed on whether or not resveratrol can block bladder tumors from growing. While some research suggests that resveratrol can be used to prevent the growth of bladder tumors, one of the most common cancers in the United States, another study found no effect.155 The successful use of resveratrol along with chemotherapy drugs is also mixed, but suggests that pre-treatment with resveratrol could help improve the effectiveness of the pharmaceutical treatment.161 On a positive note, recent research indicates that resveratrol may be able to reduce the severe pain frequently associated with advanced bladder cancer, especially where it has metastasized to the bone.20

How Does It Work?

Experiments on cancer cell lines suggest that resveratrol stops bladder tumor cells in the first growth phase of the cell division cycle, causing the cells to die before they replicate and divide to make more cancer cells. It does so by stimulating the production of the key protein that regulates this phase as well as that of the proteins responsible for cell death.155

At the same time, in animal and lab studies resveratrol inhibits the activity of genes that help the cancer cells survive. Resveratrol also blocks the production of growth factors that are necessary for new blood vessel growth to feed growing tumors and help them spread.155

Clinical tests on the urine of bladder cancer patients show elevated levels of formaldehyde, which is associated with cancer pain. Animal studies indicate that resveratrol reduces formaldehyde levels, conceivably relieving pain associated with the toxin.20

Evidence of Benefit

In lab experiments, adding resveratrol to human bladder cancer cells at the highest dosage level (250 µm) killed 50% of the cells in as little as 12 hours. The lowest dosage (160 µm) managed to do the same in 48 hours. Conversely, untreated cells from the same line continued to grow.155

A recently published animal study using human bladder cancer cells to induce tumors in appropriate cancer-model lab mice suggests that resveratrol may be able to get rid of bladder tumor cells in cancer patients. The animals were injected with human bladder cancer cells, which caused bladder tumors to grow. Cancer cell inoculation was followed by injections of 20 mg/kg of resveratrol over four weeks, which significantly blocked tumor growth compared to the untreated rats.155

Conversely, another study also published in 2010 appears to contradict resveratrol’s effect on bladder cancer. The study was conducted on rats where bladder cancer was induced by a carcinogen. Resveratrol, aspirin, naproxen, and Iressa® were administered to separate groups of study rats. Each substance was administered orally according to three different treatment schedules—two of which began one week after administering the carcinogen and lasted 4-7 months, and the third administered beginning three months after carcinogen injection and continuing for three months of treatment. Only the Iressa® and naproxen showed positive benefit, significantly inhibiting tumor size. In this study resveratrol actually showed a 3% increase in tumor size.162

It bears mentioning that the rats were given 1000 mg of resveratrol per kg of body weight—an enormously higher dose than the study that showed beneficial anti-tumor effects of resveratrol against bladder cancer.162 As a percentage of body weight, 1000 mg (or 1 gram) for a rat is a significantly greater dosage than the 2.5 g/day dosage of resveratrol that appeared to cause adverse oxidative damage to healthy human participants in a 2010 clinical trial.32

When used with the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel in lab studies on bladder cancer cells, resveratrol administered at the same time interfered with and decreased the effectiveness of the drug.42 But when tumor cells were pre-treated with resveratrol and then treated with chemotherapy, resveratrol synergistically increased the toxicity of paclitaxel treatment against the bladder cancer cells.161

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