by Geri Walton ~ February 6th, 2009
Cancer is among the leading killers in America, and, according to the Cancer Cure Foundation, “It is estimated that about 555,500 Americans will die from cancer, corresponding to 1,500 deaths per day.” With such a high chance of falling victim to cancer, it’s important you do what you can to prevent it. One of the best ways may be to eat the pungent mustard-yellow spice known as turmeric. That’s because turmeric, similiar to ginger, contains curcumin, “reportedly several times more potent than vitamin E as a free radical scavenger” and a seemingly powerful cancer preventative.
Curcumin, which is a member of the ginger family, is extracted from the roots of the curcuma longa plant, and is considered an ancient and potent folk remedy. In India, Ayurvedic medicine has long used it to treat diabetic wounds, coughs, liver disorders, rheumatism, and sinusitis. Because it is so popular in Indian, America’s Johnson & Johnson makes curcumin band-aids for Indian consumers. Traditional Chinese medicine also has praise for curcumin. They use it to treat abdominal pain. However, it seems that despite curcumin’s various health benefit, it may be the best tool to prevent and fight all sorts of cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, the chance of a woman developing invasive breast cancer during her lifetime is one in eight. Researchers claim that a diet powdered with the potent antioxidant curcumin, may play in role in stopping it, at least, that’s the findings of researchers at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. They published their findings in the Clinical Cancer Research journal in 2005 noting, the “spice appears to shut down a protein [known as "IKK"]…making it impossible for the cancer to spread.”
The American Cancer Society maintains skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer, and that melanoma skin cancer, although the least likely to happen, causes the most deaths. They also note that “overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 1 in 50 for whites, 1 in 1,000 for blacks, 1 in 200 for Hispanics.” Fortunately, in lab tests, curcumin has shown an ability to interfere with melanoma cells and to interfere with inflammation, which is also thought to be a risk factor in cancer, including skin cancer.
Curcmin may also aid in the fight against colon cancer. Several studies have shown positive results, and at least one study showed “in the colon, it [curcumin] inhibited the incidence and multiplicity of invasive and noninvasive adenocarcinomas, as well as decreased tumor volume.” Another study, published in 2006, showed curcumin had the ability to “retard tumor growth,” and researchers at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City maintain curcumin is a “potential chemopreventive agent in humans” because of its ability to suppress tumor colon cancer cells.
Curcumin’s medicinal abilities were recently demonstrated in a research article published in the Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences (CMLS). Researchers noted, “Curcumin exhibits great promise as a therapeutic agent, and is currently in human clinical trials for a variety of conditions, including multiple myeloma, pancreatic cancer, myelodysplastic syndromes, colon cancer, psoriasis and Alzheimer’s disease.” Although the results are yet to be determined, Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD, and professor of cancer medicine at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, maintains that if clinical studies on curcumin prove out, preventing cancer may be as easy as taking a 1/2 tablespoon of turmeric each day.