Turmeric, a spice from India used in many curry dishes and gaining popularity around the world has been found to prevent one of the world's most malignant carcinomas: prostate cancer.
An important breakthrough from a study by a group of medical scientists at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat (LMU) in Munich, reveals that turmeric not only fights an array of deadly maladies, but it also inhibits the formation of metastases.
The team, lead by PD Dr. Beatrice Bachmeier, investigated the properties of curcumin—a compound in turmeric—and its effect on cancers. Previously, Bachmeier discovered that curcumin "reduces statistically significantly the formation of lung metastases in an animal model of advanced breast cancer."
Inflammation is associated with the development of carcinomas and inflammatory reactions are present in cancer cells affected by pro-inflammatory immunomodulators caused by two specific cytokine proteins: CXCL1 and CXCL2.
The curcumin present in turmeric was shown to block the proteins. “Due to the action of curcumin, the tumor cells synthesize smaller amounts of cytokines that promote metastasis,” Bachmeier explains in the study. “As a consequence, the frequency of metastasis formation in the lungs is significantly reduced, in animals with breast cancer, as we showed previously, or carcinoma of the prostate, as demonstrated in our new study.”
Researcher like the team at LMU Munich believe that using foods to help prevent cancer is a promising and important step toward defeating the disease. Bachmeier says curcumin may be affectively used to combat both prostate and breast cancer.
A separate team of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center also discovered that the spice turmeric has powerful cancer inhibiting properties. They acknowledged that turmeric, known for its ability to fight inflammation, has been long suspected to also be a powerful cancer fighter.
"This study shows that curcumin can work in the mouths of patients with head and neck malignancies and reduce activities that promote cancer growth," Dr. Marilene Wang said in a UCLA news release. "And it not only affected the cancer by inhibiting a critical cell signaling pathway, it also affected the saliva itself by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines within the saliva."
Another study in early 2011 confirmed that turmeric aids in repairing damage to the brain that's often caused immediately following a stroke. The leader of the study, Dr. Paul Lapchak of Cedars-Sinai, stated at a conference that the new drug [based on the curcumin compound] seemed to positively affect "several critical mechanisms" that will aid in keeping brain cells alive after a stroke.
Hailing the breakthrough, the Stroke Association called it the "first significant research" demonstrating curcumin CNB-001 has the power to aid victims of strokes.
Traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine has used turmeric as part if its medical regimen. Although Indian doctors claim many different elements in the spice work synergistically to provide significant health benefits, Western laboratory research has focused only on curcumin.