A herbal helper for HRT

In order to counter the unwanted effects of the menopause, millions of women around the world receive hormone replacement therapy (HRT) made up of a combination of oestrogen and progestin. Past research has shown that such treatment could increase the risk of breast cancer. A new study, however, has found that luteolin — a type of flavonoid found naturally in herbs and vegetables — can help to reduce this risk. Rich sources of luteolin include thyme, celery, parsley and broccoli. The study found that luteolin helped to produce an anti-tumour effect, in that it caused the blood vessels that feed the cancer cells to decrease and reduced the stem-cell-like properties of the cells, which normally promotes cancer-cell development. Although the study was done in a laboratory, the findings suggest that luteolin helps to prevent or disrupt the growth of tumours in a number of ways, opening up the possibility for developing drugs in the future. It is a fascinating insight into how diet can help fight cancer.