The possible beginnings of a treatment for breast cancer are bittersweet.
A study by Dr. Ratna Ray published in Cancer Research found that the extract of bitter melon, also used in her savory stir-fries, could also slow or stop breast cancer cells from proliferating.
The vegetable melon, common in India and China, has been popular in Western countries as a dietary supplement, and for good reason. Previous studies have shown it helps lower both blood sugar and cholesterol. Used as a folk medicine to treat diabetes, it also contains vitamin C and flavanoids (one of the compounds that wins red wine it’s “but it’s healthy!” title).
Cancer cell lines treated with the extract slowly died while those that were healthy were not affected. The untouched healthy cells are just as good of news as the dying cancerous ones. Part of the problem with radiation is that it targets all cells, not just those forming tumors, leaving patients with harsh, physical side effects. Now that Dr. Ray’s studies have been completed in the lab, the next step is animal trials.
She hopes that eventually extract of the drug will be added to patients’ diets in the treatment of cancer. Though it’s still miles from a cure, these results aren’t sour. It’s a sweet first step in fighting the growth of malignant tumors.