A fruit commonly consumed in Asian countries could also play an important role in fighting cancer, according to a new study in mice.
Researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center found that the juice of the bitter melon -- a green squash-shaped produce with a bumpy skin -- could stop pancreatic cancer cells from metabolizing glucose. This is important because cancer cells need this energy in order to survive -- and blocking off their glucose supply kills them.
"It's a very exciting finding," study researcher Rajesh Agarwal, Ph.D., who is the co-program leader of Cancer Prevention and Control at the university, said in a statement. "Many researchers are engineering new drugs to target cancer cells' ability to supply themselves with energy, and here we have a naturally-occurring compound that may do just that."
Researchers tested bitter melon juice's effects on pancreatic cancer cells in mice, and found that the mice that were given the juice had a 60 percent lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with control mice.
The new findings are published in the journal Carcinogenesis.
In 2010, researchers from Saint Louis University found that bitter melon extract could stop breast cancer cells from proliferating in a lab setting.