Juice from the bitter melon – a fruit similar to a cucumber with bitter, warty skin – has been shown to prevent pancreatic cancer in mice, and kill pancreatic cancer cells in a Petri dish. Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd, comes from India and was introduced to China in the 14th century where it has been used for many centuries to treat type II diabetes. Taking into account the fact that bitter melon juice has putative benefits for diabetics – who are at increased risk of pancreatic cancer – the researchers looked into the direct link between the juice and the cancer. They found that mice models with pancreatic cancer that were fed bitter melon juice were sixty per cent less likely to develop the disease than controls. It may restrict the cells’ ability to metabolise glucose. But, the jury is still out on whether it is actually effective against both diseases.
Written by Nick Kennedy
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