Ever since Dr. Oz mentioned resveratrol on Oprah, the media has anchored this substance into the minds of dog lovers across the country.
Granted, resveratrol is very interesting. And the anti cancer effects of resveratrol are quite interesting too…but mainly in test tubes and petri dishes.
If one were to use this as the basis for a recommendation, we would be slinging thousands of supplements and curing cancer left and right.
Here is the basic issue: when a dog lover is trying to find out what to use for their four legged family member, there are too many options to choose from. Since there are few published papers comparing real life cancers in dogs on different supplements, one has to be able to consider different technical factors to come up with top contenders to try.
Safety, trials in dogs, trials in lab animals, trials in people, trials in test tubes and petri dishes, activity when given by mouth (as most dog lovers don’t do injections) and manageable oral doses are considerations. These were all used as criteria to weed out supplements with lower probabilities of helping dogs with cancer in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
If a supplement only has published or studied benefit in test tubes but not in real life bodies, it should not be recommended (at least, not yet).
Even if we have lab animal studies on cancer supporting the use of the supplement, I advocate a rotation between different ones since we just don’t have real life trials, in real life dogs.
Resveratrol, along with a huge number of others, looks great but not (yet) in real life dogs with real life cancers that have already developed.
I would love to see any actual studies in dogs, or even laboratory animals, using resveratrol as an anti-cancer agent. Yes, there are studies out there using test tubes and petri dishes (did I make that point already?), but where are the in vivo (“in life”, or in living bodies) data showing the anti-cancer effects (not longevity, not hypoglycemic, not anti-oxidant or anti-ischemic)?
Remember, we need to look at data where the stuff is given by mouth, not by an injection. There are a few publications in lab animals where resveratrol shows benefit, but it was injected. This does little good as resveratrol injections are not generally available at this time to vets.
I should point out that there is a study in mice, in all fairness, that showed a decreased rate of spread for colon cancer when resveratrol was given by mouth. This is a good thing, and likely reflects the fact that the substance was able to contact the tumor cells directly after being taken by mouth. So, this would be one application of resveratrol in dogs that could be considered.
I would sure like to see some safety data however.
The confusion escalates when all of these other studies involving cancer prevention or involving injected resveratrol, which are not relevant to the question of a current cancer patient (and we are not talking about cancer prevention here folks), are tossed around as if they support resveratrol’s use for existing cancer. When taken by mouth. For existing cancer. Existing cancer.
The reason I am repeating these phrases, and being a bit flippant, is that there is so much hype using irrelevant studies to support resveratrol’s use in patients with existing cancer. It has driven me a bit batty!
On top of this, resveratrol, at least in humans, is largely utterly destroyed by enzymes lining the intestine and in the liver after being absorbed. If a dog (or a person) takes a pill, it goes down into the stomach and intestine and the stuff in the pill gets absorbed into the blood. Then it goes to the liver for processing, then to the rest of the body and ultimately to the cancer cells. If it gets caught in the liver, and inactivated, it is done for.
The best way to get resveratrol in the blood at this time is by an injection (by passing the intestine and liver) or by holding a lozenge under the tongue, neither of which are likely to happen in a dog cancer patient. No IV resveratrol is available, and dogs don’t suck pills.
Having said that, a new resveratrol delivery system is in the pipeline. This is quite exciting actually. SRT501 is coming, and this drug is a form of orally bioavailable resveratrol. Now that is something to create some hype about! This one has data that shows it actually gets to concentrations (in real life bodies) that are in the ballpark of what we are shooting for!
SRT501 is a ways off (years). But don’t lose hope, you never know what might pop up next in the resveratrol story.
So, resveratrol has potential merit in real life dogs with real life cancers. Just not quite yet, in my opinion.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.