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Bitter Melon Can Help Treat Cancer, As Per New Study

Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd or ‘karela’ in hindi is among the most common and healthy vegetables cooked in almost every house. A lot of people are aware of the fact that bitter melon is strongly recommended for diabetics, however, new research suggests that the vegetable is also very helpful in fighting against cancer.

Being closely related to zucchini, squash and cucumber, bitter gourd is a unique fruit-vegetable which is mainly known for a specific bitter taste and amazing health benefits. It is a vine of the Cucurbitaceae family and widely used in traditional medicines and multiple cuisines of Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.

100 g of bitter melon contains 49 kcal energy and 89.93 g water. It also contains 0.8 g proteins, 9 mg calcium, 15 mg magnesium, 0.37 mg iron, 305 mg potassium, 31.6 mg vitamin C, 49 mcg folate, 0.55 mg vitamin E along with vitamin K, fatty acids and vitamin A.

According to a study published in the journal Cell Communication and Signaling, bitter melon extract is very helpful in treating oral cancer cells in humans by inhibiting cell proliferation, modulating cell signalling and inducing apoptosis (controlled cell death). The study was conducted by Prof.Ratna Ray and her team members. First, they conducted a preliminary study on various cancer cells (breast, head, neck and prostrate) by using bitter melon extract.

The extract was found effective against cancerous cells which stopped duplicating after the intake. This gave way to the researchers to experiment more on preventing cancer by using bitter melon extract. Later, they conducted a study on mouse models with mouth and tongue cancer. It was found that bitter melon extract not only stopped the growth of tumour cells but also caused the death of those cells. They are looking forward to conducting the test on humans. Another study shows that bitter melon has RNA-cleavage activity that inhibits the growth and multiplication (cytostatic) of breast cancer cells and also causes the death of those cells.

This resulted in reduced cell proliferation of breast cancer cells. During the study, researchers examined two types of breast cancer cells MCF- 7 and MDA-MB-231. The extract of this fruit-vegetable was prepared by grinding it in a juicer and removing the solids. It was then added to the cancerous cells. As a result, 80% of the cancerous cells died within 48 hours while the non-cancerous cells were still alive. The study, thus resulted in the programmed cell death of only cancerous cells when exposed to bitter gourd extract while non-cancerous cells were still functioning like before. Also, as the cells were tested in the laboratory, the study requires further research to be conducted on humans.