The bitter vegetable, better known as bitter gourd, which was so far found to be beneficial against diabetes, heartburn, blood pressure, ulcers and high cholesterol levels, has now been found to be an effective slayer of breast cancer cells in the body.
According to a research carried out by scientists at Saint Louis University, bitter melon or bitter gourd extract, apart from killing breast cancer cells, also prevented them from multiplying.
The bitter vegetable, with its rich mineral and vitamin content such as vitamin A, B1, B2 and C, besides iron content, is highly beneficial in tackling several diseases.
Ratna Ray, Professor in the department of pathology and lead researcher, agrees that the results seem promising, as research shows that bitter melon extract considerably induced death in breast cancer cells and decreased their growth and spread.
The research was conducted using human breast cancer cells in vitro or in controlled lab setting. The extract will now be tested on an animal model to see if it plays a role in delaying the growth or killing of cancer cells. On receiving a positive result from this, human trials may follow, Ray said.
This finding is of special interest for women, particularly in India, as it is a much commonly available vegetable in India.
Ray said that preventing cancer by using natural vegetables is considered as the best way to reduce high incidences of cancer.
Ray’s future research will focus on using bitter melon extract as a vital dietary product and examine the impact on high-risk breast cancer patients.
Rajesh Aggarwal, Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Colarado University, Denver School of Pharmacy, said that this study is a major step in establishing cancer preventing efficiency of bitter melon against breast cancer.
However, more studies are required to understand the molecular targets of bitter melon extract in cancer cells and for establishing its in vivo efficacy, he said.