Washington, DC (CHAKRA) – An Indian-origin researcher at Saint Louis University claims that an extract from bitter melon, commonly eaten and known as karela in India, causes a chain of events which helps to kill breast cancer cells and prevents them from multiplying. The taste of bitter melon known for its bitter taste is commonly eaten by families. Bitter melon is very popular in India where it is prepared with potatoes and served with yogurt to offset its bitter taste.
Ratna Ray, the lead researcher and professor at Saint Louis University said she was surprised to learn that the extract in bitter melon which she uses for stir fry can prevent breast cancer cells from growing.
Ray said, “To our knowledge, this is the first report describing the effect of bitter melon extract on cancer cells.” Furthermore she said, “Our result was encouraging. We have shown that bitter melon extract significantly induced death in breast cancer cells and decreased their growth and spread.”
Past research has shown that bitter melon is also a substance which lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels. That is why Ray decided to look further into bitter melon’s effect on breast cancer cells.
Ray used human breast cancer cells in a controlled lab experiment setting to conduct her research.
“There have been significant advances in breast cancer treatment, which have improved patient survival and quality of life. However women continue to die of the disease and new treatment strategies are essential,” Ray said.
She added, “Cancer prevention by the use of naturally occurring dietary substances is considered a practical approach to reduce the ever-increasing incidence of cancer. Studying a high risk breast cancer population where bitter melon is taken as a dietary product will be an important area of future research.”