- Bitter melons are the best cancer fighters
- Eating bitter melon or bitter gourd (karela) regularly can destroy deadly cancer cells
- Grab a karela a day to keep cancer away
Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd or karela, is one of the best cancer-fighting foods. Therefore, adding some bitter melons to your regular diet can ward off deadly cancers.
Can a Karela a Day Keep Cancer Away?
According to recent research, the Asian fruit commonly eaten in India that also is known as bitter melon shows promise in slowing the progression of cancer, which is the world's second deadliest disease. It has properties that prevent cancer from growing and spreading.
Bitter melon, which is cooked like a vegetable and has seeds like a fruit, stops cancer cells in their tracks, Saint Louis University research found. Conducted in the laboratory and in mice, the research has not yet been tried in people, but points to bitter melon as a potential alternative therapy to complement traditional cancer treatments, the researcher says.
Ray, who received her doctorate degree from the University of Calcutta and grew up in India eating bitter melon, began studying whether the fruit, which is a folk medicine for diabetes, also could protect against cancer.
Goodness of Natural Products
"Natural products play a critical role in the discovery and development of numerous drugs for the treatment of various types of deadly diseases, including cancer. Therefore, the use of natural products as preventive medicine is becoming increasingly important," Ray said.
Her recent research, which was published online in Cell Communication and Signaling, builds upon years of work that shows bitter melon inhibits the replication of breast, prostate and head and neck cancer cells in a petri dish and in a mouse model. For instance, her 2018 paper found bitter melon reduced the incidence of tongue cancer in a mouse model and was the most cited paper of the year for the American Association for Cancer Research's Cancer Prevention Research.
Bitter Melons can Prevent Oral Cancer
In the Cell Communication and Signaling paper, Ray's research team chronicled the mechanism used by bitter melon to fight cancers of the mouth and tongue. In a nutshell, bitter melon adjusts certain molecules that are involved in the metabolic pathways that transport glucose and fat in the body, which are key targets to suppress the growth of oral cancer, eventually causing the cancer cells to die.
While it's too soon to say if bitter melon works to stop cancer in people, Ray eats bitter melon three to four times a week. She compares the taste to the bitterness in beer.
How to Cook Bitter Melons
Bitter melon is available as a green vegetable in local Asian markets. Ray prepares bitter melon in an assortment of ways - steaming it and mashing it with green chilies and a bit of salt or potatoes or stir-frying it with eggplant, squash and greens and seasoning with spices. It also can be blended into a smoothie.
"Some people take an apple a day, and I'd eat a bitter melon a day," Ray said. "I enjoy the taste."
- Inhibition of the key metabolic pathways, glycolysis and lipogenesis, of oral cancer by bitter melon extract - (https://doi.org/10.1186/s12964-019-0447-y)
- Bitter Melon Prevents the Development of 4-NQO-Induced Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in an Immunocompetent Mouse Model by Modulating Immune Signaling - (https://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2018/01/10/1940-6207.CAPR-17-0237)