Bitter Tropical Fruit Attacks Breast Cancer

Researchers have identified the gene that makes breast cancer aggressive in some women. And now there’s a natural protein that can stop the gene from causing the tumor to grow.

The protein is found in a tropical vine widely grown in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. The fruit of the vine is bitter but edible. It’s used in Chinese stir fries and Indian curries. And it has scientifically proven healing powers.

Dietary Solutions

Dr. Ratna Ray is a professor of pathology at St. Louis University. Her expertise lies in studying the regulation of cell growth. And she is especially interested in dietary solutions. One study that she led on the effect of this fruit appeared in the journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Dr. Ray and her team extracted juice from the raw green fruit using a household juicer. They then applied the juice to breast cancer cells. The cells received either a 1%, 2%, or 5% concentration of the juice to determine the minimum needed for the cells to die.

First, she tried 1% concentration but it showed no effect. Next, she tried 2% concentration of the juice. That amount killed 80% of breast cancer cells. The 5% concentration only showed a slight improvement over the 2%. So Dr. Ray determined that 2% of the juice was the minimum needed to destroy breast cancer cells.

Dr. Ray’s next step will be to test the bitter fruit in animals. If those results are positive, they will move on to human trials.

“There have been significant advances in breast cancer treatment, which have improved patient survival and quality of life,” says Dr. Ray. “However, women continue to die of the disease and new treatment strategies are essential. Cancer prevention by the use of naturally occurring dietary substances is considered a practical approach to reduce the ever-increasing incidence of cancer.”

A clue as to why the bitter fruit is effective against breast cancer comes from a study done at New York University School of Medicine. It was conducted by the Department of Biochemistry. The results appeared in the Anticancer Research Journal.

The researchers isolated a protein in the fruit – MAP30 – and looked at its effect on the HER2 gene. That’s the gene that causes breast cancer to be aggressive in 30% of patients. (HER2 is short for Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2.)

They treated breast cancer cells with the protein in vitro and in mice. The treatment blocked the effect of the HER2 gene and stopped cell growth. Mice injected with 10 micrograms of the protein experienced significant increases in survival. They remained tumor free for 96 days.

The Bitter Truth

The fruit all of these researchers have been working with is Momordica charantia. It’s commonly known as Bitter Melon or African Cucumber.

Dr. Ray’s study concludes that Bitter Melon can be used as a supplement for prevention of breast cancer. But it’s not only used for breast cancer. Alternative medical practitioners use it to lower elevated blood sugar levels. In fact, it’s sometimes called “vegetable insulin.”

Bitter Melon is available as a tea or as capsules or tablets. There is no standardized dose, but manufacturers of the capsules recommend 500mg per day. You can also purchase the fresh fruit at Asian grocery stores. According to NYU Lagone Medical Center, the recommendation for control of blood sugar is one small, raw melon per day. If you prefer, you can drink 2 or 3 ounces of the fresh juice.

The fruit is a widely eaten in Asia, so it’s generally regarded as safe. The only adverse reaction we know of (reported in an animal study) is hypoglycemia. It occurs when blood sugar levels fall too low. So if you are using glucose-lowering drugs to manage type 2 diabetes, you probably want to avoid Bitter Melon. (As always, it’s best to check with your doctor before trying any new remedy.)

While many women survive breast cancer, the death toll is still too high. NHD will continue to research all-natural solutions that can benefit you and your loved ones.

To your best health,

Michael Jelinek,

Managing Editor, NHD “Health Watch”

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Health Topic: Cancer | Diet and Nutrition

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