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Black Cohosh Stops Breast Cancer Growth

A new laboratory study, published in Phytomedicine, suggests that extracts from black cohosh, an herb most commonly used to reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, may stop breast cancer cells in their tracks. This adds more evidence to a small but growing body of research suggesting that black cohosh could have a use in breast cancer prevention.


Black cohosh (Cimicifugae racemosae rhizome), is a perennial plant native to North America, is a member of the buttercup family. It has long been a popular alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in many countries. In the UK, 9 million days’ worth of black cohosh supplements were purchased in 2004.

The inhibition of the growth of breast cancer cells was related to an induction of programmed cell death (apoptosis).

“These results corroborate the results of our previous studies indicating that the growth inhibitory effect of actein or an extract of black cohosh is associated with activation of specific stress response pathways and apoptosis,” wrote the researchers, referring to their studies published earlier this year in Anticancer Research and the International Journal of Cancer.

Although the results are promising, further research is needed to determine whether the herb can be effectively used as a breast cancer chemopreventive agent.

Sources: November 13, 2007
Phytomedicine October 31, 2007 [Epub Ahead of Print]
Anticancer Research March-April, 2007;27(2):697-712
International Journal of Cancer November 1, 2007;121(9):2073-83

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