Fruit extract found to kill breast cancer cells

St. Louis, MO – New research out of Saint Louis University finds that a fruit extract can kill breast cancer cells in the lab. The fruit, called bitter melon, is a popular ingredient in Indian and Chinese cooking, and is also used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes.

SLU pathologist Ratna Ray led the study. She wanted to see whether bitter melon has any anti-tumor activity. To do that, she tested it on breast cancer cells and on normal, non-cancerous controls.

Ray found that while the bitter melon extract had practically no effect on normal human cells, it killed or slowed the growth of the cancerous ones. She says the next step will be to test whether the extract can prevent cancer growth in mice. She hopes to have those results later this year.

Her current study is published in the March 1 edition of Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.