Research Shows Curcumin Effective Against Cancer


Eat This Spice, It Could Save Your Life

The curry spice turmeric could help prevent and possibly even cure cancer.

Turmeric contains an ingredient called curcumin, also found in yellow mustard, that researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston say may help suppress and destroy the blood cancer multiple myeloma. Curcumin is what gives mustard and turmeric their yellow color.

In the laboratory, the researchers added curcumin to human cells infected with multiple myeloma. The result: The curcumin stopped those cells from replicating, and the cells that were left died, reports Reuters.

Even though the study did not actually test curcumin in cancer patients, lead researcher Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal is so impressed with these early lab results that he recommends cancer patients eat food seasoned with turmeric. And with good reason. Previous research has shown that curcumin may fight other types of cancers besides multiple myeloma. It has also been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can heal wounds and possibly fight Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis. Best of all, curcumin has no known side effects in human beings–even in large amounts. The study findings were published in the journal Blood.

A study last year from Kumamoto University in Kumamoto, Japan, that was published in the journal Cancer also found that curcumin prevented cancer and stopped tumors from growing. Reuters reports that the Japanese researchers determined that curcumin inhibited the production of interleukin-8 (IL-8), a protein that attracts white blood cells to a particular site and leads to inflammation. The compound also reduced the activity of nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-kappaB), a molecule that helps regulate the gene that produces IL-8.

What does that mean? Tumor cells secrete high levels of IL-8, which is a protein that causes inflammation. The exact role IL-8 plays in cancer growth is still unclear, but previous research shows it may stimulate tumor cells to produce at the same time it suppresses the immune system. But the compound in turmeric–curcumin–curbs IL-8. If the spice actually does what the study findings suggest, then "curcumin is capable of working as a potent agent that reduces tumor promotion," the researchers concluded.

In yet another study, researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., found that curcumin helped protect the skin of cancer patients who were undergoing radiation therapy. A common and painful side effect of radiation is burns and blisters. Mice who were given three doses of curcumin for five to seven days a week along with a dose of radiation had minimal skin damage caused by the radiation. In addition, curcumin was found to suppress the development of new cells in tumors, which furthers the effectiveness of radiation therapy, reports Health Newswire.

There's only one problem with what could be Mother Nature's miracle cure for cancer, and you won't believe what it is: Greed. To learn more about turmeric's cancer-fighting properties, including the proper dosage, requires large medical experiments with a great number of patients. Such ventures are costly and are typically financed by drug companies eyeing future product development. However, in this case, the "drug" is a natural compound. Aggarwal explained to Reuters that no drug company can reap the financial benefits if turmeric proves to be an effective anti-cancer drug so no drug company is likely to pay the big bucks needed for the medical studies.

–Cathryn Conroy


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