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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Odd Vegetable Kills Breast Cancer Cells

I just read this article and thought some of you might find it interesting also. I found it at http://www.aolhealth.com/condition-center/breast-cancer/bitter-melon?icid=mainnetscapedl5link3http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aolhealth.com%2Fcondition-center%2Fbreast-cancer%2Fbitter-melon.


Odd Vegetable Kills Breast Cancer Cells
Getty Images By Marrecca Fiore
A vegetable used in Chinese and Indian medicine to treat diabetes may also destroy breast cancer cells, according to a study published in the March 1 issue of “Cancer Research,” a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Lead researcher Ratna Ray, Ph.D., a professor in the department of pathology at Saint Louis University, uses bitter melon in her stir fries but was surprised to find the vegetable’s extract also appears to “kill” breast cancer cells and prevent them from multiplying.
“To our knowledge, this is the first report describing the effect of bitter melon extract on cancer cells,” Ray said in a statement. “Our result was encouraging. We have shown that bitter melon extract significantly induced death in breast cancer cells and decreased their growth and spread.”
Bitter melon gets its name because it's among the most bitter of all vegetables, although it's also called African cucumber, balsam pear and bitter gourd. It is widely grown and used in India, Southeast Asia, China, Africa, and the Caribbean. It resembles a shriveled cucumber or gourd and the texture of the vegetable is described as being similar to both a cucumber and bell pepper. It's high in fiber and vitamin C. It also contains the B vitamins, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin and B6, as well as magnesium, potassium and zinc.
In the East, bitter melon is often used in stir fries, soups, and stews, as well as for pickling.
In the U.S., bitter melon can purchased at specialty grocery stores, especially Asian and Indian grocers.
Ray told AOL Health she purchases the vegetable in either Asian or Indian grocery stores and cautioned that the taste may take some getting used to.
It's very bitter," she joked. "I don't mind because I like the taste, but some people might need to get used to it."Supplements have become very popular with Americans due to the vegetable's widely touted blood sugar benefits and can be purchased in both health food and health supplement stores such as GNC, as well as in drugstores. It can also be purchased as a tea. To date, Ray's research has not included the use of supplements and teas.
"We've only used the extract straight from the vegetable," she said.
Ray decided to test bitter melon's ability to fight breast cancer because it has been used for diabetes management and to lower cholesterol, .
She used human breast cancer cells in a controlled laboratory setting to conduct her experiments. She said the next step would be to test the extract in animals, which she plans to do within the next several months.
“Cancer prevention by the use of naturally occurring dietary substances is considered a practical approach to reduce the ever-increasing incidence of cancer. Studying a high-risk breast cancer population where bitter melon is taken as a dietary product will be an important area of future research,” Ray said.
Ray said bitter melon will probably not prove to be a miracle drug as women in places such as Asia where the vegetable is widely eaten still get breast cancer.
In the meantime, she said eating bitter melon does have many health benefits and certainly wouldn't harm anyone who wants to start adding it to their diets.

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Books Available

Ginny and I (Erin) have collected a bunch of really great breast cancer related books and would love to share them with anyone interested in reading...Just leave a comment here on the blog and we'll arrange getting you the book!

Here's the list:

Finding the “CAN” in Cancer
By Nancy Emerson, Pam Leight, Susan Boonan and Terri Schinazi

Fighting for our future- How Young Women Find Strength, Hope, and Courage While Taking Control of Breast Cancer-
Forward by Ann Curry of the Today Show
By Beth Murphy

Voices of Breast Cancer- The Haling Companion: Stories for Courage, Comfort & Strength
Edited by the Healing Project

Just a Lump in the Road- Reflections of Young Breast Cancer Survivors
By Debbie Leifert, Gina Castronova, Dr. Tamara Brennan, Jackie Ehrilich, Cindy Goldberg, & Donna Palmisciano

Breast Cancer Survivor Fitness Plan
By Carolyn M. Kaelin, M.D., M.P.H.

Facing the Mirror With Cancer- A Guide to using Make-up to Make a Difference
By Lori Ovitz and Joanne Kabak

Breast Cancer Husband-- How to Help your Wife and (Yourself) Through Diagnosis, Treatment, & Beyond
By Marc Silver

First You Cry- The Classic Inspiring Story of One Woman’s Triumph Over Breast Cancer
By Betty Rollin

The Middle Place- A Memoir of Kelly’s battle with breast cancer
By Kelly Corrigan

Crazy, Sexy, Cancer Tips-
By Kris Carr--Forward by Sheryl Crow

Tools & Tips From the Trenches- Heartfelt Advice for Survivors Families & Friends
By Mary Olsen Kelly

Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor’s Soul
By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, & Mary Olsen Kelly

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