Skip to comments.In cancer fight, a spice brings hope to the table
Posted on 07/11/2005 1:19:41 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the epitome of the conventional cancer establishment, is reporting promising test results on an unconventional weapon: a common spice used in Indian cooking.
In a host of studies, M.D. Anderson researchers are showing that curcumin, the pungent yellow spice in both turmeric and curry powders, has potent anti-cancer properties. They say it may prove effective for both prevention and treatment.
"Curcumin's promise is enormous," said Bharat B. Aggarwal, a professor of cancer medicine in M.D. Anderson's department of experimental therapeutics.
"It appears to inhibit multiple pathways by which cancer grows, and we know it's nontoxic."
Aggarwal added that "in a day when Vioxx and Bextra are off the table, curcumin may be one of the best new hopes on the table" a reference to popular painkillers (Cox-2 inhibitors) taken off the market after reports they increased the risk of heart disease. Cox-2 inhibitors were considered potential cancer prevention agents because they'd been shown to inhibit tumor growth.
The latest study on curcumin is available today on the journal Cancer's Web site.
In it, M.D. Anderson researchers demonstrate in the laboratory how curcumin stops melanoma cells from proliferating along two key pathways and induces them to essentially commit suicide. The cells were taken from patients.
A month ago, the same researchers reported that in mice, curcumin helped stop the spread of breast cancer to the lungs. It outperformed the cancer drug Taxol in the study, though the best results came with a combination of curcumin and Taxol.
Putting it to the test The results of those studies have led to ongoing Phase I human trials at M.D. Anderson testing curcumin's ability to stop the growth of pancreatic cancer and multiple myeloma.
Still to come are a human trial for breast cancer and an animal trial for melanoma.
Elsewhere, researchers are studying curcumin with lung, colon, head and neck, oral and prostate cancers.
Aggarwal said the thing distinguishing curcumin from other natural products touted for their medicinal properties is the science behind it.
Herbs such as garlic, saw palmetto and gingko may receive more ink, but there have been about 2,000 studies on curcumin, says Aggarwal, easily more than any other natural product.
It is rich in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties.
Most intriguing, the rate of colon, breast, prostate and lung cancer is 10 times lower in India than in the United States.
Financial obstacles In the melanoma study, the M.D. Anderson team found curcumin shut down nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB), a powerful protein known to promote an abnormal inflammatory response that leads to a variety of disorders, including arthritis and cancer; the protein known as IKK that switches NF-kB "on;" and STAT3, another pathway involved in the spread of tumors.
Aggarwal noted that the greatest obstacle to further study of curcumin is financial. No pharmaceutical company is likely to develop a natural product that can't be patented so the only sources of funding are government agencies.
Curcumin is available in capsule form at health food stores, though the purity of some brands may be in question because herbs aren't regulated. Aggarwal's team worked with a 96 percent pure product.
"Curcumin's efficacy for treating cancer is still to be proven," Aggarwal said. "But I would recommend it for prevention right now, based on animal studies. People have been eating it for thousands of years so we know it's safe."
Ground from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, curcumin is a member of the ginger family.
It has long had multiple uses in India and other Asian nations: food preservative, folk medicine, coloring agent, body cleanser and food flavorer (2 to 5 percent of turmeric is curcumin, for instance).
"Most intriguing, the rate of colon,
breast, prostate and lung cancer is
10 times lower in India than in the
Cancer has been slowly killing off my family for the last few years. I'm hoping they solve it before it's my turn. I can't think of very many worse ways to go.
Head to the spice isle today.
***...It is rich in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. ...***
This undoubtedly has more to do with the cancer numbers than curcumin. However, this is in fact an exciting possibility for cancer treatment.
More curry chicken please!
Seems to me that this should have been the next step.
Unless of course, the media was trying to invent news. But they wouldn't do that, would they?!? ;P
Looks like the average Indian doesn't live long enough to get cancer.
I am so hoping that I get the genetic side from my mom. Seems like most of my dads side of the family has died early (50-60), almost all from cancer. The women on my moms side live long. My grandma is 88, and her mom died at 92. I think I'll go to the store...just in case.
I doubt it could hurt!
Why can't they somehow discover someday that bacon prevents cancer?
My aunt sent me an unusual plant with pretty foliage many years ago.
I had to go to Exotica (THE encyclopedia of plants) to determine what it was.
Turns out it was curcuma inodora.
I wonder whether the inodora variety has the same chemical structure.
It is a very showy plant, at first glance reminding you of a colorful bromeliad.
It's been 25 years, and more, since I went on the Great Hunt for the Sure Cure for Cancer with my long-lost first wife... she had Kaposi's hemmoragic sarcoma, then malignant melanoma- but what set her off the deep end was when her brother got melanoma, too.
We started in Vancouver, and went all the way down to Contreras's clinic in Mexico, looking for "something- anything" that would offer an alternative to the dire prognosis from conventional medicine. Laetril, wheatgrass juice & sprouts, retinotherapy, reflexology, DMSO-- you name it, we tried it- And yes, her brother died eventually, despite the best conventional, and other, treatment...
while I remain unconvinced that "alternatives" offer any sort of sure cure, they did have snippets of knowledge that medicine poo-poos, yet- why not try diet, and exercise? Can't hurt you, you may feel better, or at least different for a while.
Life is worth fighting for.
Thank you for the info.
I know what you mean.
It's just anecdotal, but the longest-lived people I have known were active, and did hard labor-- usually in the sunlight every day, just about up 'til the day they died. And many of them ate what I call a farmhand's or lumberjack's diet- eggs, meat, pancakes, bacon... plenty of vegtables, often cooked in some sort of fat, fried food. But they kept moving, until they could move no more.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.