Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center say an extract of Ginkgo biloba reduces the risk of aggressive cancer in animal experiments.

The investigators report that treating mice with Ginkgo biloba both before and after implanting human breast or brain tumours slowed the growth of the breast tumours by 80% as long as the extract was used, compared to untreated mice, and also reduced the size of the brain tumours, but temporarily, and to a lesser extent.

Ginkgo biloba is a popular supplement believed to enhance memory, and is now being tested as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

“It is very encouraging that Ginkgo biloba appeared to reduce the aggressiveness of these cancers, because it suggests that the leaves could be useful in some early stage diseases to prevent them from becoming invasive, or spreading,” said senior author, Vassilios Papadopoulos.

“But I must stress that this is a study in mice, and so we cannot say what anticancer effects, if any, Gingko biloba might offer humans,” he said.

Source: Anticancer Res. 2006 Jan-Feb;26(1A):9-22