New Natural Treatment for Breast Cancer?

A natural compound found in herbs such as thyme and parsley and in vegetables such as celery and broccoli could reduce the cancer risk for women who have taken hormone replacement therapy.

Researchers at the University of Missouri found that luteolin may inhibit growth of human breast cancer cells in postmenopausal women who have taken a combined estrogen and progestin hormone replacement therapy. These women have an increased risk of breast cancer and an increased risk of developing more aggressive progestin-accelerated breast tumours.

“Most older women normally have benign lesions in breast tissue,” said biochemistry professor Salman Hyder. ”These lesions typically don’t form tumours until they receive the ‘trigger’– in this case, progestin–that attracts blood vessels to cells essentially feeding the lesions causing them to expand.”

His newest study shows that when the supplement luteolin is administered to human breast cancer cells in the lab, benefits can be observed including the reduction of those vessels “feeding” the cancer cells causing cancer cell death.

Hyder’s lab also found that, as human breast cancer cells develop, they tend to take on stem cell-like properties, which can make them harder to kill. Here, luteolin was used to monitor stem cell-like characteristics of breast cancer cells and his team saw a vast reduction in this phenomenon, further proving that the natural compound exerts its anti-tumour effects in a variety of ways.

Then, Hyder further tested laboratory mice with breast cancer and found that blood vessel formation and stem cell-like characteristics also were reduced inside the body.

“We feel that luteolin can be effective when injected directly into the bloodstream, so IV supplements may still be a possibility,” Hyder said.

“But, until the supplement is tested for safety and commercialized, which we hope will happen after further testing and clinical trials, women should continue consuming a healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables.”

The early-stage results of this research are promising, reports the University of Missouri. If additional studies are successful within the next few years, MU officials will request authority from the U.S. government to begin human drug development. After this status has been granted, researchers may conduct human clinical trials with the hope of developing new treatments for breast cancer in women who have takencombined estrogen and progestin hormone replacement therapies.

The research was published in the journal Springer Plus.