Turmeric Contains Promising Anti-Cancer Substances
Turmeric has been prescribed in traditional herbal medicines for centuries to prevent and treat many diseases. It continues to be used by health care professionals who practice Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and other Eastern herbal medicines. In fact, modern research from both Western and Eastern scientists continues to uncover the health benefits of turmeric. Cancer treatment and prevention is one of the largest areas of research for turmeric compounds. (vi.1-2)
SCIENTIFIC TERMS TO KNOW
Metastasis is the term used when cancer spreads away from the area of the body it originally developed in. Cancer cells travel through the blood stream, lymph system, and through body cavities. (vi.4)
Over 30 years of research have uncovered much of how turmeric and some of its primary compounds (especially curcumin) work to fight cancer. Unlike most chemotherapy drugs, this herbal medicine attacks cancer on all three fronts: (vi.2, 4-5)
- Cancer Prevention: Boosts the functioning of normal cells and stops cancer from developing.
- Cancer Treatment: Inhibits tumor growth and kills cancer cells.
- Antimetastatic: Blocks the spread of cancer to other areas of the body.
Do Turmeric Compounds Work with Conventional Cancer Therapy?
Studies suggest that compounds in turmeric may also help improve the effectiveness of conventional cancer therapy:
- Counteracts chemoresistance: Curcumin sensitizes cancer cells that are resistant to radiation or chemotherapy drugs. This makes them more susceptible to treatment. (vi.6-7)
- Prevents or alleviates treatment side effects: Radiation and chemotherapy can cause severe side effects, such as mouth sores and infection. Side effects are not just painful and/or uncomfortable. They can also further undermine a cancer patient's health. Turmeric compounds may help relieve or even prevent some side effects and reduce the risk of having to end treatment early. (vi.7)
- Synergistically enhances conventional treatments: Curcumin and other turmeric compounds could increase how well conventional treatments work against cancer cells. Experiments show combining turmeric compounds with chemotherapy and radiation treatments increases levels of cancer cell death or arrest. Researchers say these results suggest that using the turmeric compound could allow for lower doses of potentially toxic treatments, translating to fewer and/or reduced toxic side effects. (vi.7)
What Types of Cancer Could Turmeric Compounds Help Prevent or Treat?
Lab, animal, and human studies suggest that turmeric compounds (especially curcumin) may help prevent or even treat the following types of cancer:
- Bladder (vi.8)
- Brain (vi.9)
- Breast (vi.10)
- Cervical (vi.8)
- Colon (colorectal) (vi.11)
- Esophageal (vi.12)
- Head and neck (vi.13-15)
- Kidney (vi.16)
- Leukemia (vi.17)
- Liver (vi.18)
- Lung (vi.12)
- Lymphoma (vi.19)
- Multiple myeloma (vi.20)
- Oral cancers (vi.8)
- Ovarian (vi.21)
- Pancreatic cancers (vi.22)
- Pituitary tumors (vi.23)
- Prostate (vi.24)
- Skin (metastatic melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma) (vi.8, 10)
- Soft tissue sarcomas (vi.25)
- Stomach (vi.16)
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