PHILADELPHIA Bitter melon extract, a common dietary supplement, exerts a significant effect against breast cancer cell growth and may eventually become a chemopreventive agent against this form of cancer, according to results of a recent study.
"Our findings suggest that bitter melon extract modulates several signal transduction pathways, which induces breast cancer cell death," said lead researcher Ratna B. Ray, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pathology at Saint Louis University. "This extract can be utilized as a dietary supplement for the prevention of breast cancer."
Results of this study are published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Previous research has shown Momordica charantia, also known as bitter melon, to have hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects, according to Ray. Because of these effects, the extract is commonly used in folk medicines as a remedy for diabetes in locales such as India, China and Central America, according to the researchers.
Using human breast cancer cells and primary human mammary epithelial cells in vitro, Ray and colleagues found the mechanism of bitter melon extract significantly decreased proliferation, that is, cell growth and division, and induced death in breast cancer cells. These early results offer an encouraging path for research into breast cancer.
"Breast cancer is a major killer among women around the world, and in that perspective, results from this study are quite significant," said Rajesh Agarwal, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado, Denver School of Pharmacy. "This study may provide us with one more agent as an extract that could be used against breast cancer if additional studies hold true."
According to Agarwal, the Cancer Research associate editor for this study, the simple study design, clear-cut results and the overall i
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American Association for Cancer Research