Friday, March 5, 2010

Bitter melon extract attacks breast cancer cells

Bitter melon (Momordica charantia, Peria, 苦瓜) is widely cultivated and eaten as a vegetable in Asia, Africa, and South America.

It is known to contain additional glycosides such as mormordin, vitamin C, carotenoids, flavanoids and polyphenols. In fact, bitter melon extract has been used by traditional healers in China and India for centuries as a natural treatment for diabetes

Preparations of bitter melon extract have been shown in previous studies to have a beneficial effect on glucose metabolism, plasma, and hepatic lipids.

It turns out that's not all the health benefits bitter melon offers.

A new study by Saint Louis University scientists provides evidence the vegetable triggers a chain of events on a cellular level that stops breast cancer cells from multiplying and also kills them.

For the study, Ratna B. Ray of the Department of Pathology at Saint Louis University and colleagues treated human cells, both cancerous and healthy ones, in vitro with bitter melon extract, which is sold in health food stores and over the Internet.

The researchers found the mechanism of bitter melon extract significantly decreased proliferation, that is, cell growth and division, and induced death in breast cancer cells but not the healthy breast cells

These early results offer an encouraging path for research into breast cancer. The authors stressed that their work was done in a laboratory, not in humans , these results are not proof that bitter melon extract prevents or cures breast cancer. Additional studies are needed to further understand the molecular targets of bitter melon extract in cancer cells, as well as for establishing its in vivo efficacy.

Current recommendations to prevent breast cancer include maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol, exercising and eating a healthful diet that includes a variety of vegetables and fruits. Bitter melon has ingredients which are good for health.

Ref: Ratna B. Ray, Amit Raychoudhuri, Robert Steele, and Pratibha Nerurkar. Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia) Extract Inhibits Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation by Modulating Cell Cycle Regulatory Genes and Promotes Apoptosis. Cancer Res; 70(5); 1925–31

In vivo - work in a laboratory vessel or other controlled experimental environment rather than within a living organism or natural setting (in vivo)


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