Health Discoveries in Breast Cancer

Dietary supplement shows potential as a breast cancer treatment

April 12, 2010
The dietary supplement, bitter melon extract – commonly used as a folk medicine in India, China and Central America – may inhibit breast cancer cell growth, according to a new study.

Published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, the findings are based on laboratory tests of human breast cancer cells and primary human mammary epithelial cells. The bitter melon extract significantly decreased cell growth and division, which led to death in breast cancer cells.

"Our findings suggest that bitter melon extract modulates several signal transduction pathways, which induce breast cancer cell death," said researcher Ratna B. Ray, a pathology professor at Saint Louis University.

Bitter melon extract is cultivated in Asia, Africa and South America. Used as a dietary supplement in western countries, it is known to contain additional glycosides such as mormordin, vitamin C, carotenoids, flavanoids and polyphenols.

Clinical trials related to breast cancer that are under way at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, the research facility of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, include a study that is focused on evaluating the effect of combining the drugs trastuzumab (herceptin) and paclitaxel (taxol) to treat women with early stage breast cancer. Previously, the drugs have been used together to treat women with more advanced breast cancer.ADNFCR-2730-ID-19714335-ADNFCR
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