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07-07-2011 | Article

Grape seed extract may protect against skin cancer


Free abstract

MedWire News: A dietary supplement known as grape seed extract may offer some protection against the development of skin cancer, according to US scientists.

But although the supplement holds promise for its cancer-preventing properties, they warn that it is not yet ready for "prime time" and say their findings need to be replicated in further studies.

Maryam Asgari (Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland, California, USA) and team investigated the impact of different dietary supplements on the risk for a type of skin cancer known as cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

From local health records they identified 415 people who had been diagnosed with SCC and 415 people of similar age, gender, and race, but without SCC. Each participant completed a questionnaire detailing their use of vitamins, minerals, and other supplements.

Asgari's group found that people who took grape seed extract were markedly less likely to have SCC than were people who did not take this supplement.

No other supplement was associated with either an increased or decreased likelihood of having skin cancer.

The new finding is in line with previous research in both people and laboratory animals, all of which has suggested that grape seed extract may have cancer-preventing properties, note Asgari and co-authors writing in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Based on these promising reports, large clinical trials are now under way to determine whether this supplement could be useful for preventing cancer.

However, as with all medications grape seed extract can have unwanted effects. In the study by Asgari's team, the most common side effects were headache, itchy scalp, hives, nausea, and dizziness; the supplement may also interfere with the effectiveness of certain other prescribed drugs.

"Given the potential toxicity of grape seed extract… more studies are needed to establish the effect, determine optimal dosing, and assess side-effect profiles," Asgari et al conclude.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Joanna Lyford