Chicago: Doctors at the US’s Cancer Research Institute have found that evening primrose oil could help fight the worst types of breast cancer.
A substance in the oil can help dampen down a gene that is responsible for 30 per cent of breast cancers.
The oil contains a substance that boosts the effectiveness of the cancer drug Herceptin and increased the response of cancer cells to the drug increased 40-fold.
Evening primrose oil is an inexpensive supplement grown mostly in the US that contains high concentrations of a beneficial oil called Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA).
In the study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Scientists at Northwestern University in Chicago, who were studying the effect of GLA on the gene responsible for Her2 types of cancer, added it to cells in the laboratory.
They found it dampened down the activity of the gene, called Her2/neu. They also noticed the boost to Herceptin. The scientists said GLA caused cancer cells to die and reduced growth of the disease. While it is toxic to cancer cells, it does not harm normal cells. GLA can also be found in borage oil and blackcurrant seed oil.
Evening primrose oil is used to treat various conditions. from acne and eczema to depression, PMT and Multiple Sclerosis and it is also taken to try to reduce symptoms of the menopause. But xperts advise women on cancer drugs not to take complementary medicines without checking with their doctor, in case of side-effects.