Cancers (Basel). 2020 Jul 27 ;12(8). Epub 2020 Jul 27. PMID: 32726914
Bitter Melon (), a Nutraceutical Approach for Cancer Prevention and Therapy.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Many dietary plant products show promising anticancer effects. Bitter melon or bitter gourd () is a nutrient-rich medicinal plant cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of many countries. Traditionally, bitter melon is used as a folk medicine and contains many bioactive components including triterpenoids, triterpene glycoside, phenolic acids, flavonoids, lectins, sterols and proteins that show potential anticancer activity without significant side effects. The preventive and therapeutic effects of crude extract or isolated components are studied in cell line-based models and animal models of multiple types of cancer. In the present review, we summarize recent progress in testing the cancer preventive and therapeutic activity of bitter melon with a focus on underlying molecular mechanisms. The crude extract and its components prevent many types of cancers by enhancing reactive oxygen species generation; inhibiting cancer cell cycle, cell signaling, cancer stem cells, glucose and lipid metabolism, invasion, metastasis, hypoxia, and angiogenesis; inducing apoptosis and autophagy cell death, and enhancing the immune defense. Thus, bitter melon may serve as a promising cancer preventive and therapeutic agent.