Unless you are an enthusiast for Asian cookery, you may not be aware of the bitter melon.
This vegetable is frequently used in Asian cuisine, but recent research from the Saint Louis University has suggested that it could be the key to an alternative form of cancer treatment.
The research documents the use of bitter melon extract as a treatment in cancer cells in mice. The researchers have noticed an effect of slowed growth in neck and head cancer cells.
The team have stated that it is challenging to measure the possible “impact” of using a bitter melon treatment in reducing cell growth rates.
However, according to Ratna Ray Ph. D the research shows promise in combination with existing treatments to improve “the efficacy of the overall cancer treatment”.
Neck and head cancer cases, which account for approximately six percent of all reported cancer cases, generally start in the sinuses, throat, mouth or voice box. However, they are generally a very aggressive form of cancer which will often spread in the head and neck region.
The bitter melon or Momordica charantia is commonly used in alternative or folk medicine because of the reputed hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic effects.
The initial research from the Saint Louis team has shown encouraging results for the treatment of a number of different forms of cancer including breast cancer.
The team noted the “significantly decreased proliferation” caused by the bitter melon which could induce the death of cancer cells.
This preliminary research has suggested hope for an alternative treatment in slowing down the growth and inducing cancer cell death.
Further research is planned by Ray and her team to document the effects on other types of cancer cells and investigate the “chemo-preventive efficacy” in an oral administration of the extract.
While this may not be an immediate form of treatment, it does show great promise and in the future could be the key to effective treatment programs.