Bitter melon does not turn up often on U.S. menus, but researchers in Colorado say the fruit could have serious cancer-fighting potential.
Bitter melon is a long, green, bumpy fruit that's common in Asian cuisines. According to The Huffington Post, in 2010 bitter melon extract was shown to be able to stop breast cancer cells from multiplying in a lab setting. A new study with mice shows that the fruit's juice has properties that can kill pancreatic cancer cells.
Cancer cells need to metabolize glucose to survive, and the study authors say bitter melon juice could stop that process. According to the study, mice given bitter melon juice had a 60 percent lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer than the mice in the control group.
"It's a very exciting finding," said Rajesh Agarwal, Ph.D., co-leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control program at the University of Colorado, 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."
For some ways to add the potentially cancer-fighting fruit to your own diet, check out some of our best bitter melon recipes.