Grape seed oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) – component known for their cell-saving properties – have been intensively studied for about 40 years. However, much like curcumin, grape seed OPCs can only be useful if they are absorbed. Many grape seed extracts contain tannins, which have too high of a molecular weight to be truly useful – they are simply too big to be absorbed. That’s why I recommend a tannin-free, high-OPC French grape seed extract. And grape seed extract is not some strange therapeutic ingredient. Grape seed OPCs are on the front line of cancer research. Some of the most exciting studies have been done at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Their research of grape seed extract has shown that this powerful botanical ingredient has the ability to target specific colon cancer cells, while still leaving healthy cells intact. Other research at the University of Colorado has shown that grape seed extract decreased the formation of lung nodules – metastasized from colon cancer – by 35 percent, and their entire number by 66 percent. Colon cancer and its complications is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths, so this is a remarkable achievement. Still other work examined the effect of grape seed extract on breast carcinoma cells when used alone or with a conventional treatment. Their results showed that the two interventions worked well together, but that grape seed extract alone was a strong inhibitor of breast cancer cells. These results have been mirrored in other research showing that grape seed extract polyphenols have a strong ability to stop tumor growth. One of the reasons for this is that grape seed extract inhibits aromatase, an enzyme that converts androgen into estrogen. Breast and prostate cancer tissues typically have higher levels of aromatase. A study published in the journal Cancer Research showed that grape seed extract inhibited aromatase activity and reduced growth in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. The researchers concluded, “We believe that these results are exciting in that they show grape seed extract to be potentially useful in the prevention/treatment of hormone-dependent breast cancer through the inhibition of aromatase activity as well as its expression.”
Recent Australian research found that grape seed extract reduced the severity of mucositis, the painful inflammation of the digestive tract due to chemotherapy, and enhanced the effectiveness of chemotherapy in fighting colon cancer. If you spend a lot of time outdoors and skin cancer is a concern, grape seed extract may offer protection: a Romanian study reported that keratinocytes (the major type of cells in the outer layer of the skin) treated with grape seed extract 30 minutes before UVB radiation protected them from damage.
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