Extract from the saw palmetto berry, a commonly used herbal supplement taken by men with enlarged prostates, may also have anti-cancer properties, researchers announced last week at a meeting of The American Society for Cell Biology meeting. A research team from Boston analyzed the effects of the herb on cancer cells in a laboratory study. They exposed prostate cancer cells and a generic cancer cell line to various concentrations of berry extract. The cancer cell growth was then monitored. "A much smaller amount of the herb was needed to decrease the cell growth of the prostate cancer cells compared to the amount needed to slow down the growth of the generic cancer cells. This suggests that the effect of saw palmetto is fairly specific for prostate cancer cells. In a second study, the researchers monitored the production of a protein by the cancer cells, and found that it was also decreased in both types of cancer cells following berry extract exposure. December 2000.
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