Breast cancer patients may soon be able to benefit from extract from a bitter melon that kills and inhibits the growth of cancer cells, according to a researcher from Saint Louis University.

To study the impact of bitter melon extract on breast cancer cells, Ratna Ray, PhD, professor in the Department of Pathology at Saint Louis University, and lead researchers used in vitro human breast cells in an animal model to see if the bitter melon extract played a role in slowing the growth or apoptosis of breast cancer cells.

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Investigators found that bitter melon extract played a significant role in promoting breast cancer cell death and decreased growth and metastasis.

“Cancer prevention by the use of naturally occurring dietary substances is considered a practical approach to reduce the ever-increasing incidence of cancer,” Dr Ray stated. “Studying a high risk breast cancer population where bitter melon is taken as a dietary product will be an important area of future research.”

However, despite the study results, which Dr Ray called encouraging, she cautioned against seeing bitter melon extract as a miracle cure for breast cancer.