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Hibiscus flowers promote apoptosis in breast cancer cells


Researchers from the University of Windsor investigated the efficacy of Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) extract as a potential adjuvant therapy for treating breast cancer. They published their findings in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

  • Conventional approaches for treating metastatic cancer lack selectivity, the ability to discriminate between cancerous cells and healthy ones. The therapies cause genotoxicity and other side effects, making them unsuitable for long-term use.
  • Studies indicate that Chinese hibiscus flower extract exhibited antioxidant and hypolipidemic effects, which gave it anti-cancer activity. As a natural health product, it was also safe for extended consumption.
  • Tests examined the anti-cancer efficacy and selectivity of hibiscus extract on estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer cells, triple-negative human breast cancer cells, and healthy non-cancerous cells. Other tests evaluated the interaction between hibiscus extract and the anti-cancer drugs cisplatin, tamoxifen, and taxol.
  • Hibiscus extract succeeded in selectively triggering apoptosis in triple-negative and estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer cells. The effect depended on the dosage.
  • Adding the extract increased the effectiveness of conventional drug therapy. When compared to cisplatin and taxol-only therapy, the addition of hibiscus extract increased the induction of cell death in resistant triple-negative breast cancer cells. The hibiscus adjuvant increased oxidative stress on cells and reduced the potential of mitochondrial membranes.

The researchers concluded that Chinese hibiscus extract induced apoptosis in breast cancer – especially resistant triple-negative breast cancer – while avoiding healthy cells. By serving as an adjuvant for drug therapy treatment, it might reduce the required dosage of anti-cancer drugs and decrease the toxic effects associated with the chemicals.

Journal Reference:

Nguyen C, Baskaran K, Pupulin A, Ruvinov I, Zaitoon O, Grewal S, Scaria B, Mehaidli A, Vegh C, Pandey S. HIBISCUS FLOWER EXTRACT SELECTIVELY INDUCES APOPTOSIS IN BREAST CANCER CELLS AND POSITIVELY INTERACTS WITH COMMON CHEMOTHERAPEUTICS. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 6 May 2019;19(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12906-019-2505-9/



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