- Bitter melon extract, a supplement derived from a vegetable commonly consumed in India, China, and South America, showed notable effectiveness against breast cancer cells in lab tests.
- The effect of bitter melon extract was selective; it damaged only the cancerous cells while leaving healthy ones unharmed. However, these results are indicative rather than definitive.
- While the research suggests potential preventative or delaying effects on cancer onset, it’s important to note that it does not prove a curative effect on existing cancer.
- The research team plans to further validate these findings through animal trials, possibly leading to human trials later. The idea of consuming bitter melon as part of a diet is also being considered.
- Despite the intriguing preliminary results, health experts emphasize the importance of comprehensive clinical trials before recommending bitter melon extract for cancer prevention. Meanwhile, they advise obtaining nutrients from a variety of fruits and vegetables as part of a plant-based diet.
An increasingly popular nutritional supplement, extract of an often overlooked vegetable known as bitter melon, could potentially have considerable protective properties against breast cancer, according to leading researchers.
The Power of Bitter Melon
Bitter melon, as it’s called, enjoys widespread consumption in regions such as India, China, and South America. Besides being a frequent ingredient in traditional culinary practices, the extract of bitter melon is commonly relied upon for its acclaimed blood-sugar regulating properties in local folk remedies for diabetes, report researchers.
“Applying the extract derived from this melon, we observed its significant effect on breast cancer cells,” commented the leading researcher of the study, Ratna Ray. As a professor of pathology at a prominent University, Ray clarified that their experiment was strictly conducted within a lab environment rather than with human subjects.
Bitter Melon Extract’s Selective Attack
An interesting observation was that the bitter melon extract’s effect was selective; it caused only the cancerous breast cells to perish, leaving healthy breast cells unharmed. “We noted no death in the normal cells,” she further explained. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that this is indicative rather than conclusive, and thus does not prove that bitter melon extract has a definitive preventative or curative effect on breast cancer.
“Personally, I’m doubtful about it being a cure for cancer. However, it might hold potential in delaying or possibly even preventing the onset of it,” Ray speculated. The research findings gained wide exposure when they were pre-published online in Cancer Research ahead of their print publication.
The Study Method
To explore their hypothesis, Ray and her team exposed human breast cancer cells to the bitter melon extract, a supplement readily available in local health food stores and even online. What they observed was revealing – the extract not only slowed the growth of these cancer cells but in some instances, led to their demise.
The researchers now plan to validate these findings through animal trials. Should these trials confirm their preliminary results, human trials could be on the cards. Apart from being ingested in supplemental form, consuming bitter melon as part of the diet might also yield similar benefits. “This melon comprises components which are inherently health-beneficial,” Ray elaborated, highlighting the vegetable’s rich Vitamin C and flavonoid content.
Marji McCullough, a strategic director of nutritional epidemiology at a respected cancer society, showed keen interest in the preliminary results. She remarked, “The outcomes of this lab-based study certainly arouse curiosity.”
However, she was quick to caution against jumping the gun, “Before we start recommending bitter melon extract supplements for prevention of cancer, rigorous clinical trials to evaluate its human safety and efficacy are indispensable.”
In the meantime, McCullough continues to back getting nutrients primarily from a variety of fruits and vegetables as part of a plant-based diet, rather than from supplements. She also emphasizes the need for comprehensive human trials before endorsing consumption of select supplements.
Current preventative measures against breast cancer include maintaining a healthy weight, moderating alcohol consumption, regular exercise, and a nutritious diet, McCullough reiterated.
To learn more about breast cancer, please visit the American Cancer Society.