Curcumin Breaks Up Signals That Encourage Cancer Growth
A pilot study conducted by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, has identified and analyzed the cancer-fighting properties of curcumin (or cumin), a component of the spice turmeric, long believed by many cultures to have medicinal properties for just about everything.
In previous studies, Dr. Marilene Wang, professor of head and neck surgery, and her fellow researchers found that that curcumin binds to and prevents the IKK enzyme from transcribing a signaling factor called nuclear factor kappa ? (NFK?) that promotes cancer growth. These prior studies were conducted first on cancer cells, and then in mouse models, and they evidenced that curcumin interfered with the cell signaling pathway of the cytokine protein molecules and reduced the number of inflammatory cytokines within the saliva itself.
The current study, lead by Dr. Wang, was conducted with 21 human patients with head and neck cancers. Patients gave samples of their saliva before and after chewing two curcumin tablets, the equivalent of 1,000 milligrams. One hour later, additional saliva samples were taken and checked for for IKK? activity.
The curcumin was effective at reducing the cytokine activity that stimulates head and neck cancers at their sites, and it was also effective at attacking the cytokines in the carrier, the patients' saliva. Next, Wang will treat patients with curcumin for more extensive periods, to see if the inhibitory effects can be increased.
"There's potential here for the development of curcumin as an adjutant treatment for cancer," Wang told Medical News Today. "It's not toxic, well tolerated, cheap and easily obtained in any health food store. While this is a promising pilot study, it's important to expand our work to more patients to confirm our findings."
Nothing in the study dealt with prevention of head and neck cancers, but Dr. Wang did indicate that a diet heavily spiced with turmeric will likely have little effect on any cancerous activity in your head and neck. Supplements are the only readily available way to get enough curcumin to activate the level of effect found in the Wang studies. Mind you, your teeth and tongue will turn bright yellow after you chew them.
This study is published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, September 15, 2011.
Editor's Note: Curcumin is easily available at most grocery and health food stores. This cuccumin from NutriGold and this curcumin by Jarrow are the two most reviewed and highly rated curcumin supplements sold on Amazon.