A substance found in celery and parsley could pack a powerful punch against breast cancer, according to a new study in mice.
Researchers from the University of Missouri found that apigenin seems to have an effect on certain kinds of breast cancer tumors associated with the hormone progestin (given along with estrogen to women as part of hormone replacement therapy for menopause, and is known to increase the risk of breast cancer).
"We do know that apigenin slowed the progression of human breast cancer cells in three ways: by inducing cell death, by inhibiting cell proliferation, and by reducing expression of a gene associated with cancer growth," study researcher Salman Hyder, a professor of biomedical sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Missouri, said in a statement.
"Blood vessels responsible for feeding cancer cells also had smaller diameters in apigenin-treated mice compared to untreated mice," Hyder added. "Smaller vessels mean restricted nutrient flow to the tumors and may have served to starve the cancer as well as limiting its ability to spread."
The study, published in the journal Hormones and Cancer, was conducted in specially bred mice that had breast cancer cells implanted in them. Some of these mice were then given a kind of progestin called medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), which is the same as that which is given as part of hormone-replacement therapy.
Then, researchers gave apigenin to some of the mice that were treated with the MPA. They found that tumors grew in the mice not given apigenin, while tumor growth actually decreased and the tumors were smaller in the mice given apigenin.
Researchers published a similar study last year in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, also looking at the role of apigenin in progestin-related breast cancer tumors in mice.