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Bitter Melon: Antagonist to Cancer


The incidence of cancer is increasing worldwide, in spite of substantial progress in the development of anti-cancer therapies. One approach to control cancer could be its prevention by diet, which inhibits one or more neoplastic events and reduces cancer risk. Dietary compounds offer great potential in the fight against cancer by inhibiting the carcinogenesis process through the regulation of cell homeostasis and cell-death machineries. For centuries, Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine) has recommended the use of bitter melon (Momordica charantia) as a functional food to prevent and treat diabetes and associated complications. It is noteworthy to mention that bitter melon extract has no-to-low side effects in animals as well as in humans. The anti-tumor activity of bitter melon has recently begun to emerge. This review focuses on recent advancements in cancer chemopreventive and anti-cancer efficacy of bitter melon and its active constituents. Several groups of investigators have reported that treatment of bitter-melon-related products in a number of cancer cell lines induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis without affecting normal cell growth. Therefore, the effect of bitter melon should be beneficial for health, and use of the non-modified dietary product is cost effective.

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This work was supported by Doisy research fund from Saint Louis University. We thank the members of the Ray laboratory for critical reading of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ratna B. Ray.

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Nerurkar, P., Ray, R.B. Bitter Melon: Antagonist to Cancer. Pharm Res 27, 1049–1053 (2010).

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