Black pepper (Piper nigrum) compounds have been shown to inhibit breast cancer development and growth. Black pepper can increase the effectiveness of some chemotherapy drugs, including Adriamycin (doxorubicin). Now a new study has demonstrated that piperine, which gives black pepper its spiciness, inhibits mammary tumor growth and metastasis in a mouse model of breast cancer.

Black pepper compounds inhibit cancer development and growth

The black pepper compounds piperine and β-caryophyllene oxide have been shown to reduce breast cancer cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and metastasis in the laboratory. β-caryophyllene oxide interferes with multiple signaling cascades involved in tumorigenesis. Piperine has been shown to protect against oxidative damage, as well as mitigating the harmful effects of cadmium exposure.

In addition, piperine has been shown to enhance the bioavailability of a number of therapeutic drugs and phytochemicals. One study reported that piperine and curcumin (found in turmeric) both separately and in combination reduced breast stem cell self-renewal but did not cause toxicity to normal cells. In fact, piperine enhanced the effects of curcumin.

Latest research shows piperine inhibits mouse mammary tumor growth and metastasis

The study referenced at the beginning of this news article was designed to investigate the effects of piperine on tumor growth and metastasis using a 4T1 mouse model of breast cancer. Mouse 4T1 cells are transplantable mammary tumor cells that are highly tumorigenic and invasive. 4T1 cells will spontaneously metastasize from the primary tumor in the mammary gland to multiple distant organs. The authors first studied the impact of piperine on the growth, apoptosis (programmed cell death) and cell cycle of 4T1 cells. Piperine was found to inhibit the growth of 4T1 cells in time-dependent and dose-dependent manners. Piperine also induced apoptosis and inhibited cell migration of 4T1 cells.

The authors then studied the effects of piperine in mice with 4T1 mammary tumors by injecting piperine into the tumors. Piperine injections were found to suppress primary tumor growth in a dose-dependent manner, as well as inhibiting lung metastasis. The authors conclude that piperine is an effective antitumor compound and has the potential to be developed as a new anticancer drug.

Please see our article on black pepper for more information.