Asian fruit can slow down cancer progression, reveals recent study
USA: A fruit commonly eaten in India can prevent cancer from growing and spreading, a recent study published in the journal Cell Communication and Signaling has suggested.
According to the Saint Louis University research, the Asian fruit karela, also known as bitter gourd or bitter melon shows promise in triggering a chain of events that kills cancer cells and prevents them from multiplying. This slows down the progression of cancer.
The research was conducted in the laboratory on mice and has not been tried yet in people but points to bitter melon as a potential alternative therapy to complement traditional cancer treatment.
Bitter melon, which is cooked like a vegetable and has seeds like fruit, is available in local Asian markets.
The recent study by Ratna Ray, professor of pathology at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, and colleagues, builds upon years of work that shows bitter melon inhibits the replication of breast, prostate, and head and neck cancer cells in a petri dish and in a mouse model. For instance, her 2018 paper found bitter melon reduced the incidence of tongue cancer in a mouse model and was the most cited paper of the year for the American Association for Cancer Research's Cancer Prevention Research.
"All animal model studies that we've conducted are giving us similar results, an approximately 50% reduction in tumour growth," said Dr Ray. "Our next step is to conduct a pilot study in cancer patients to see if bitter melon has clinical benefits and is a promising additional therapy to current treatments."
"Natural products play a critical role in the discovery and development of numerous drugs for the treatment of various types of deadly diseases, including cancer. Therefore, the use of natural products as preventive medicine is becoming increasingly important," Ray said.
In the Cell Communication and Signaling paper, Ray's research team chronicled the mechanism used by bitter melon to fight cancers of the mouth and tongue. In a nutshell, bitter melon adjusts certain molecules that are involved in the metabolic pathways that transport glucose and fat in the body, which are key targets to suppress the growth of oral cancer, eventually causing the cancer cells to die.
While it's too soon to say if bitter melon works to stop cancer in people, Ray eats bitter melon three to four times a week. She compares the taste to the bitterness in beer.
"Some people take an apple a day, and I'd eat a bitter melon a day," Ray said. "I enjoy the taste."
The study, "Inhibition of the key metabolic pathways, glycolysis and lipogenesis, of oral cancer by bitter melon extract," is published in the journal Cell Communication and Signaling.
Provided by: Saint Louis University