The study found that bitter melon extract inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells. The researchers decided to study the effect of the extract on breast cancer cells because other researchers had found the preparation lowered blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
"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," the study author said in a press statement.
The researchers are currently conducting follow-up studies. They are looking at a number of different cancer cell lines in order to investigate how bitter melon halts cancer cell growth. They will also test the vegetable extract in animals, and eventually in human breast cancer patients to see if it will delay or kill breast cancer cells.
Nutrients in Bitter Melon
Bitter melon is packed full of vitamins and phytochemicals. It is rich in iron. It also has twice the beta carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, twice the potassium of bananas, and contains vitamins A, B, C, phosphorus and good levels of dietary fiber. Some of its active chemicals include lutein, sterols, lycopene, zeaxanthin and GABA.
Extracts found in bitter melon have been reported to have hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) properties and in China it has been used successfully as a natural treatment for diabetes. It is also used in traditional medicine as an appetite stimulant, for reducing inflammation, and killing bacteria and viruses. Like most bitter-tasting foods, bitter melon also stimulates digestion.
Tips for Using Bitter Melon
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