Professor Javier Menendez and colleagues from Northwestern University have found supplementation of Oil from evening primrose oil with Herceptin drug found to be effective in reducing the cancer cell growth. About 30% of breast cancer patients have Her-2/neu receptors (Human Epidermal Growth factor Receptor type 2), which are severe kind of breast cancer that are more aggressive and the activation of the receptors makes the cancer cells to grow and these patients do not respond effectively as negative receptors to chemotherapy and/or anti-estrogen therapy such as tamoxifen.
It is found that the Drug Herceptin is effective in treating patients with Her-2/neu receptors. Researchers have now found that evening primrose oil contains a substance called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) that acts on Her-2/neu receptors. It is found that GLA acts against the gene that has the DNA coding for the Her-2/neu receptors, unlike Herceptin drug, which blocks the Her-2/neu receptor.
The research team had earlier found that gamma linolenic acid enhanced the action of tamoxifen and chemotherapy drugs against cancer cell. Adding to earlier work the researchers have found that supplementation of GLA along with Herceptin drug augmented the effect of both the drugs and increased the death rate of tumor cells and reduced the growth of cancer cells.
Professor Menendez said, " Since over-expression of Her-2/neu generally confers resistance to chemotherapy and endocrine therapies, our current findings can explain why GLA increases the efficacy of breast cancer treatments and it has been found that an inexpensive herbal medicine can regulate breast cancer cell growth and help control cancer spread.
Hazel Nunn of Cancer Research UK said, "A lot more work still needs to be done, but gamma-linolenic acid or GLA does seem to be a worthy candidate for further investigation in clinical trials, however, there is no evidence to suggest that taking GLA supplements can help prevent cancer. The best ways to reduce the risk of cancer are to avoid smoking and keep a healthy body weight."
Dr Sarah Rawlings of Breakthrough Breast Cancer said, "These early findings are interesting, however, this research does not suggest that women with breast cancer should routinely take evening primrose oil and any woman with questions about treatment should discuss them with her doctor."