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Fight Cancer with Food: Turmeric

Mar. 19, 2014|241 views

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The canary-yellow curry spice, turmeric, is arguably under-used and under-appreciated in the United States. Under-used because many of us don’t know what to do with it beyond putting a little in homemade curry dishes. And under-appreciated because this exotic spice contains some of the most potent cancer-fighting compounds in nature. 

Turmeric is a yellow powder with an earthy flavor. It’s made from the dried rhizome of a tropical plant resembling ginger. In southeast Asia, people have been consuming it with virtually every meal for centuries. And in recent years, Western scientists have discovered that some compounds in turmeric (called curcumin) possess some remarkably beneficial properties. Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, for instance. It also has germ-fighting properties. And ongoing research shows that it helps prevent cancer development in a number of ways. 

Curcumin can even help cancer chemotherapy work better when patients are being treated for diseases such as colon cancer. In fact, curcumin is among the most-studied compounds on the planet. Scientists are trying to figure out how it can be harnessed to help prevent and treat various types of cancer, including colon, liver, lung, breast and prostate cancers.

Eventually, some form of this natural compound will almost certainly be used on a routine basis in cancer treatment and prevention. It’s also beneficial against inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

There’s no need to wait for an expensive wonder drug based on curcumin, though. For just pennies you can visit the spice aisle at the grocery store, buy some turmeric, add it to your food, and reap the potential rewards right now. By the way, research has shown that it’s perfectly safe to eat curcumin in virtually any amount. 

Jurenka JS. Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Jun;14(2):141-53. Lim TG1, Lee SY, Huang Z, Lim DY, Chen H, Jung SK, et al. Curcumin suppresses proliferation of colon cancer cells by targeting CDK2. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Feb 18. [Epub ahead of print]

 Shakibaei M1, Mobasheri A, Lueders C, Busch F, Shayan P, Goel A. Curcumin enhances the effect of chemotherapy against colorectal cancer cells by inhibition of NF-κB and Src protein kinase signaling pathways. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57218. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057218. Epub 2013 Feb 22.

Tags:  cancer risks, health tips, natural remedies
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