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Bitter Melon Extract May Help Prevent Breast Cancer

Study finds extract inhibits signal transduction pathways linked to breast cancer cell growth

TUESDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) -- Extract of bitter melon, which is used in folk remedies in Asia and Central America, inhibits the signal transduction pathways associated with breast cancer cell growth and could be used in preventing the disease, according to research published in the March 1 issue of Cancer Research.

Ratna B. Ray, Ph.D., of Saint Louis University, and colleagues discuss their work with bitter melon extract, prepared from raw green Momordica charantia melons, and two breast-cancer cell lines.

The researchers noted greater than 80 percent cell death in both types after treatment with the extract. Treatment also led to a decrease in cell proliferation. Cell apoptosis was associated with greater poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage and caspase activation. In both types of cells, bitter melon treatment was associated with inhibition of survivin and claspin, which are involved in cell-cycle regulation. Their experiments also showed that treated MCF-7 cells accumulated during the G2-M cell cycle phase.

"Together, these results suggest that bitter melon extract modulates several signal transduction pathways that additively or synergistically induce breast cancer cell death and can be used as a dietary supplement for prevention of breast cancer," the authors conclude.

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