Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that normally lines a woman's uterus also grows on areas such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes or intestines. It's a progressive disease that can cause chronic pain, irregular bleeding and infertility. It's also one of the most common gynecological disorders, believed to affect more than 10 percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44.
While there is no known cure for endometriosis, doctors believe one of the best options for treatment is anti-inflammatory medication. And it so happens that one of the most intriguing anti-inflammatory compounds is a well-known ingredient in red wine: resveratrol.
Past research has considered resveratrol as a potential treatment for endometriosis, but now a new study has gone farther, testing the antioxidant found in grape skins and red wine in the lab on endometrial cells.
The study, published online in the journal Nature, was conducted by a team at Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran. Researchers collected endometrial cells from 40 patients suffering from stage 3 or 4 endometriosis as well as 15 patients without the condition. After isolating the cells, the team treated them with varying amounts of resveratrol.
Recent studies suggest that three genes and the proteins they produce are responsible for the endometrial cells growing outside the uterus. The Tehran team found that resveratrol suppressed all three, controlling inflammation and keeping the condition under control. “According to the findings, resveratrol may ameliorate endometriosis progression through reducing the expression of [these genes] in endometrial cells,” they wrote.
The authors caution that further research is needed. The number of patients whose cells were collected was small and only cells from women suffering from the most severe stages of endometriosis were used.
It also remains to be seen whether the best vehicle for getting a regular dose of resveratrol is via a supplement or a daily glass of red wine. But the research provides a glimmer of hope for women suffering from this painful condition.
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