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American ginseng/drug combination inhibits growth of breast cancer cells

In a laboratory study, combinations of standardized American ginseng extract (Panax quinquefolius) and synthetic drugs commonly used to treat breast cancer appeared to act synergistically to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. The study was designed to assess the possible estrogenic properties of American ginseng, the effects of American ginseng on the cancer cell cycle, and the interaction of American ginseng and standard chemotherapeutic drugs, including doxorubicin, tamoxifen, taxol, methotrexate, cytoxan, and megace, on cancer cell proliferation. The researchers selected an estrogen-sensitive cancer cell line model for use in the study. Results indicated that American ginseng had a paradoxical effect on the cancer cells, inducing the expression of the estrogen-regulated gene pS2 at a rate comparable to estrogen. Unlike estrogen, however, it did not increase the proliferative phase of the cancer cell cycle. In addition, concurrent administration of ginseng with most of the cancer drugs studied significantly inhibited cancer cell growth. The researchers concluded, "Further investigations are warranted to evaluate possible synergistic in vivo effects of the combination of [American ginseng] and cancer therapeutics." The standardized American ginseng extract used in this study, CNT2000™, was supplied by Chai-Na-Ta-Corp of Langley, British Columbia. No details about the standardization were provided. Duda RB, Zhong Y, Navas V, et al. American ginseng and breast cancer therapeutic agents synergistically inhibit MCF-7 breast cancer cell growth. Journal of Surgical Oncology 1999; 72: 230-239.

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