Hormone replacement therapies (HRT) help improve the lives of menopausal women. However, it increases the risk of breast cancer. Researchers from University of Missouri have found a natural compound found in herbs such as parsley and vegetables like celery and broccoli could reduce the breast cancer risk for women who have undergone HRT.
The research team from University of Missouri-Columbia found that as human breast cancer cells develop, they tend to take on stem cell-like properties which can make them harder to kill. Researchers used the natural compound luteolin to monitor stem cell-like characteristics of breast cancer cells and they saw a vast reduction in this phenomenon, further proving that the natural compound exerts its anti-tumor effects in a variety of ways.
Salman Hyder, the Zalk Endowed professor in tumor angiogenesis and professor of biomedical sciences, said, "Nevertheless, research has proven that a higher incidence of breast cancer tumors can occur in women receiving therapies that involve a combination of the natural component estrogen and the synthetic progestin."
Majority older women normally have benign lesions in breast tissue. These lesions typically do not form tumors until they receive the 'trigger', in this case progestin, that attracts blood vessels to cells essentially feeding the lesions causing them to expand. The new study suggests that when the supplement luteolin is administered to human breast cancer cells in the laboratory, benefits can be observed including the reduction of those vessels 'feeding' the cancer cells causing cancer cell death.
Researchers further tested laboratory mice with breast cancer and found that blood vessel formation and stem cell-like characteristics also were reduced in vivo or inside the body. Hyder said, "We feel that luteolin can be effective when injected directly into the bloodstream, so IV supplements may still be a possibility. If additional studies are successful within the next few years, the university officials will request authority from the federal government to begin human drug development."
The research was published in Springer Plus.