Does Turmeric (Curcumin) Prevent Cancer?

In Cancer Free 123, I included Turmeric as one of the spices that has been identified as a cancer fighter. Turmeric, also known as curcumin) is part of the ginger family. This precious spice, most often associated with India, helps to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a factor that has been linked to tumor development. Here are some recent references to turmeric as a cancer fighter.

Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D., Associate Nutrition Editor at EatingWell Magazine included turmeric in her article: “8 of the World’s Healthiest Spices & Herbs You Should Be Eating.”

“a compound in turmeric that has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has been shown to help relieve pain of arthritis, injuries and dental procedures; it’s also being studied for its potential in managing heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Researcher Bharat Aggarwal is bullish on curcumin’s potential as a cancer treatment, particularly in colon, prostate and breast cancers; preliminary studies have found that curcumin can inhibit tumor cell growth and suppress enzymes that activate carcinogens. “

Read the full article here.

The American Cancer Society refers to turmeric (curcumin) in their complementary and alternative medicine reference on treatments.

Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are compounds that can protect the body’s cells from damage caused by activated oxygen molecules known as free radicals. Laboratory studies have also shown that curcumin interferes with several important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth, and spread.

Recently, curcumin has received a great deal more attention in studies than turmeric as a whole herb. Researchers are studying curcumin to learn whether it is an effective anti-inflammatory agent and whether it holds any promise for cancer prevention or treatment. A number of studies of curcumin have shown promising results. Curcumin can kill cancer cells in laboratory dishes and also reduces growth of surviving cells. Curcumin also has been found to reduce development of several forms of cancer in laboratory animals and to shrink animal tumors.

Human studies of curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment are in the very early stages. One study of 15 patients with colorectal cancer was done to find out how much curcumin they could safely take, and whether they could take a dose large enough to be detected in the blood. The patients were able to take 3.6 grams of curcumin without noting ill effects. At this high dose, some curcumin and its products were found in the blood. Lower doses may work for the stomach and intestine. Even though it does not absorb well into the body, it has been shown to absorb into the colon lining and into any cancerous tissue in the colon.

Read the full report here.

We are probably only beginning to understand the power of this spice. However to understand the impact of this spice we can look to India.  In a symposium, Sinha R, Anderson DE, McDonald SS, Greenwald P, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health presented a paper on: Cancer Risk and Diet in India.

Cancer rates in India are lower than those seen in Western countries, but are rising with increasing migration of rural population to the cities, increase in life expectancy and changes in lifestyles……..Very little is known, however, about the role of the Indian diet in causation of cancer or its role, if any, in prevention of cancer, although more attention is being focused on certain aspects of the Indian diet, such as vegetarianism, spices, and food additives. Of particular interest for cancer prevention is the role of turmeric (curcumin), an ingredient in common Indian curry spice.    

Read the full abstract here.

So, basicly the traditional Indian diet, including less meat and more spices such as turmeric, may have influenced lower cancer rates in India. However, as Indians embrace more western fare, their cancer rates are beginning to increase.

Also, you can listen to my interview of:   Christian Wilde, On Preventing Cancer with Turmeric for CancerFreeRadio. Christian is an author & researcher. He publishes the Christian Wilde’s Stem Cell and Turmeric Research Report that informs readers on stem cell progress.

Click here for the interview on CancerFreeRadio.

The nice thing about this supplement, is that it is easy to add to your nutrition arsenal. Even if you cannot tolerate spicey foods you can easily find turmeric in supplement pills at your local or online health food store or vitamin store.


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Julie Joyce,
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Cancer Free Radio

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