The simple grape may become a treatment option for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Researchers are exploring grape seed extracts cancer-fighting potential.
More than 4,300 Canadians will develop head and neck cancer this year, with almost 1,600 people dying from it. This type of cancer is curable if caught early. And a study published this week in Carcinogenesis offers hope for grape seed extract (GSE) as a natural treatment option.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center have found that GSE produces “a rather dramatic effect” in killing head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells in both cell lines and mouse models.
Safe for healthy cells
While killing cancerous cells, GSE doesn’t harm healthy cells.
“Cancer cells are fast-growing cells,” says researcher Rajesh Agarwal, PhD. “Not only that, but they are necessarily fast growing. When conditions exist in which they can’t grow, they die.”
GSE is able to create conditions that are inhospitable to cancer cells. The study found that GSE damages cancer cells’ DNA and stops the pathways that allow repair, with no toxic effect on healthy cells.
Recognizing symptoms of head and neck cancer
This type of cancer can be cured if found early. Have these possible warning signs checked out by your health care practitioner:
- a lump in the neck that lasts more than two weeks
- a hoarseness or change in your voice that lasts more than two weeks
- a growth or sore in your mouth or on your tongue that doesn’t go away (even if it’s painless)
- blood in saliva or phlegm for more than a couple of days
- difficulty swallowing food
- sores on the lip, face, ear, or neck that don’t heal
- changes in size, colour, or shape of moles
- constant pain in or around the ear when you swallow
Preventing head and neck cancer
Ninety percent of head and neck cancer develop after prolonged use of tobacco and alcohol. Avoid tobacco products and follow safe alcohol consumption limits.
- Sun overexposure can lead to cancer of the skin and lip. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 whenever your skin is exposed to the sun, and use a lip balm with sunscreen too.
Researchers hope to begin clinical trials of GSE as a potential second-line therapy that targets head and neck squamous cell carcinoma that has failed a first treatment.