Sweet promises from this bitter vegetable

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Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, is to publish on March 1 a new study from Saint Louis University that shows "bitter melon extract significantly induced death in breast cancer cells and decreased their growth and spread," said lead researcher, Ratna Ray, PhD.

Ray, excited by the team's findings for further research, noted, "bitter melon is common in China and India, and women there still get breast cancer."

Cathy Wong, ND, CNS, a naturopathic doctor and author, offers some basic information about the bitter melon: it is easily found in Asian markets and is available in the whole vegetable, liquid extract and capsules. Mild side effects could include stomach pain and diarrhea but the item is widely consumed in both Asian and Indian cuisines.

Wong continued, "bitter melon is used primarily for type 2 diabetes, although studies are needed to prove its effectiveness" and cautioned, "bitter melon may decrease blood sugar and insulin levels, so it shouldn't be combined with diabetes medication." Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's site, renowned cancer research and hospital in New York, warns the bitter melon is too toxic for children and pregnant women.

Bitter melon can be called a variety of names including bitter gourd, bitter apple, wild cucumber, bitter cucumber, balsam apple, balsam pear, margose, la-kwa, leprosy gourd or karela.

If bitter melon is foreign to your diet, here is a traditional kerala fry, Indian dish with bitter melon, how to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLvJ20OtlkU

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center details more clinical observations: http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/69138.cfm

 

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