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How to live longer: Grape seed extract may reduce risk of heart disease and cancer

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Many people have died before their time this year due to the coronavirus pandemic but this uptick should not distract the world from addressing the two most prolific killers. Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death across the world and having one can increase your risk of the other. Research late last year found that cancer patients are at higher risk of dying from heart disease.

There are important distinctions between the two – heart disease is far more preventable than cancer.

Anyone can fall victim to the destructive process whereby cancerous cells multiply and divide uncontrollably.

However, leading a healthy lifestyle can mitigate your risk of developing both to varying degrees.

Research recommends adding grape seed extract to your protective arsenal.

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Grape seed extract (GSE) is a dietary supplement made by removing, drying, and pulverising the bitter-tasting seeds of grapes.

One way grape seed extract can reduce your risk of heart disease is by impeding one of its contributing mechanisms – high blood pressure.

Several studies have researched the effects of GSE on high blood pressure.

A review of 16 studies in 810 people with high blood pressure or an elevated risk of it found that taking 100–2,000 mg of GSE daily significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the top and bottom number) by an average of 6.08 mmHg and 2.8 mmHg, respectively.

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Systolic and diastolic blood pressure are the two numbers used to record your blood pressure. They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

Those under the age of 50 with obesity or a metabolic disorder showed the greatest improvements.

The most promising results came from lower doses of 100–800 mg daily for eight to 16 weeks, rather than a single dose of 800 mg or more.

Another study in 29 adults with high blood pressure found that taking 300 mg of GSE daily lowered systolic blood pressure by 5.6 percent and diastolic blood pressure by 4.7 percent after six weeks.

Anti-cancer promise

The causes of cancer are complex, though DNA damage is a central characteristic.

A high intake of antioxidants, such as flavonoids and proanthocyanidins, are associated with a reduced risk of various cancers.

The antioxidant activity of GSE has shown potential to inhibit human breast, lung, gastric, oral squamous cell, liver, prostate, and pancreatic cell lines in lab settings.

In animal studies, GSE has been shown to enhance the effect of different types of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that stops cancer cells reproducing, which prevents them from growing and spreading in the body.

GSE appears to protect against oxidative stress and liver toxicity while targeting chemotherapy action on the cancerous cells.

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between unstable atoms called free radicals and antioxidants in your body. It is thought to contribute to a number of diseases, such as cancer.

A review of 41 animal studies found that either GSE or proanthocyanidins reduced cancer-induced toxicity and damage in all but one of the studies.

Keep in mind that the anticancer and chemopreventive potential of GSE and its proanthocyanidins may not be directly transferable to people with cancer.

More studies in humans are needed.

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