Resveratrol: An antioxidant present in many plants. Resveratrol is a type of polyphenol called a phytoalexin, a class of compounds produced as part of a plant's defense system against disease. It is produced in the plant in response to an invading fungus, stress, injury, infection, or ultraviolet irradiation. Red wine contains high levels of resveratrol, as do grapes, raspberries, peanuts, and numerous other plants. The French Paradox -- how the French live longer while their diet is high in fats -- has been attributed to the fact that wine is rich in resveratrol.
Resveratrol has been shown to reduce tumor incidence in animals by affecting one or more stages of cancer development. It has been shown to inhibit growth of many types of cancer cells in culture. Evidence also exists that it can reduce inflammation. It also reduces activation of NF kappa B, a protein produced by the body's immune system when it is under attack. This protein affects cancer cell growth and metastasis.
Resveratrol is sold as a nutritional supplement over-the-counter in the US.
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Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012