Turmeric Blocks and Prevents Cancer in Hundreds of Studies
Turmeric definitely helps prevent cancer. This is the conclusion of hundreds of studies by researchers from around the world.
Turmeric is the root of the plant, Curcuma longa. It is also called curry – a spice commonly used to provide flavor to Asian dishes and to rice. Turmeric is also a key ingredient in mustard, and is used to provide yellow food coloring to many other foods.
When I first wrote this article six years ago there were a few studies that supported this thesis. Since then, the research has surged. With a resounding conclusion that turmeric and its central compound curcumin, inhibits the growth of numerous types of cancers.
Forms of cancer turmeric inhibits
Here is a list of cancers that turmeric and cucumin have been shown to block:
- Breast cancers
- Pancreatic cancers
- Bladder cancers
- Liver cancers
- Prostate cancer
- Bone cancers
- Cervical cancers
- Lymphatic cancers
- Human papilloma virus (HPV)
- Colorectal cancers
- Lung cancers
- Brain cancers
- Oral cancers
- Throat cancers
Laboratory research with turmeric
Most of these studies have been laboratory studies. These include taking human cancer cell lines and exposing them to either turmeric or curcumin.
These studies have found that turmeric and its phytochemical compound, curcumin, inhibt the growth of cancer cells. Human cancer cell lines have been collected over the years from human cancer patients.
Apoptosis is the death of a cell. In other words, the cancer cells were killed by the curcumin and the catechins. The mechanism observed by the researchers was the fragmentation of the cells’ nucleus and the subsequent breakdown of their DNA. The ability to kill off certain cells is called cytotoxicity.
Human clinical research
This doesn’t mean there haven’t been human studies on turmeric and cancer patients. Most of these, however, have been what is called adjuvant therapy. This means the patients were also being treated with radiation, chemotherapy or other conventional cancer treatments.
For example, a 2014 study tested 80 cancer patients who underwent standard chemotherapy. Half the patients also took a turmeric supplement in addition to their chemo treatments.
The researchers found that the turmeric supplement increased the quality of life for the chemo patients. They also helped patients suppress systemic inflammation – which in turn helped them fight their tumors.
In a 2015 study from the UK’s University of Leicester, researchers treated 33 colorectal cancer patients who had inoperable liver tumors. Twelve of the patients received turmeric in addition to chemotherapy, with doses up to two grams a day.
The researchers found that the turmeric increased the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. It also proved to be safe and tolerable when taken with the 5-fluorouracil and oxaliplatin chemotherapy.
In a 2010 study from France’s University of Auvergne, researchers gave 14 breast cancer patients curcumin doses in periodic cycles with their chemotherapy treatments. They found that 6,000 milligrams per day for seven days in a row was the most effective dose. They found the curcumin dosing resulted in “encouraging efficacy.”
Real cancer prevention
There is ample evidence to conclude that turmeric helps prevent cancer. But one of the most telling studies was a study from India’s Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute. The research tested people in a region of West Bengal that were exposed to heightened levels of arsenic in the groundwater.
The researchers found that those who consumed more turmeric over a three month period were significantly less likely to suffer from DNA damage, free radical damage, and lipid peroxidation compared to those who were not.
DNA damage is a direct cause of mutation of the DNA, which sets up the right conditions for cancer cell production. Free radicals can also damage the DNA, in turn producing mutations and cancer.
Turmeric apparently inhibits these mechanisms. In addition to blocking the growth of cancer cells, turmeric apparently helps prevent cancer cells in the first place.
(Laboratory studies on turmeric are too numerous to list. Human clinical studies are listed below.)
James MI, Iwuji C, Irving G, Karmokar A, Higgins JA, Griffin-Teal N, Thomas A, Greaves P, Cai H, Patel SR, Morgan B, Dennison A, Metcalfe M, Garcea G, Lloyd DM, Berry DP, Steward WP, Howells LM, Brown K. Curcumin inhibits cancer stem cell phenotypes in ex vivo models of colorectal liver metastases, and is clinically safe and tolerable in combination with FOLFOX chemotherapy. Cancer Lett. 2015 Aug 10;364(2):135-41. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2015.05.005.
Irving GR, Iwuji CO, Morgan B, Berry DP, Steward WP, Thomas A, Brown K, Howells LM. Combining curcumin (C3-complex, Sabinsa) with standard care FOLFOX chemotherapy in patients with inoperable colorectal cancer (CUFOX): study protocol for a randomised control trial. Trials. 2015 Mar 24;16:110. doi: 10.1186/s13063-015-0641-1.
Panahi Y, Saadat A, Beiraghdar F, Sahebkar A. Adjuvant therapy with bioavailability-boosted curcuminoids suppresses systemic inflammation and improves quality of life in patients with solid tumors: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2014 Oct;28(10):1461-7. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5149.
Ghalaut VS, Sangwan L, Dahiya K, Ghalaut PS, Dhankhar R, Saharan R. Effect of imatinib therapy with and without turmeric powder on nitric oxide levels in chronic myeloid leukemia. J Oncol Pharm Pract. 2012 Jun;18(2):186-90. doi: 10.1177/1078155211416530.
Biswas J, Sinha D, Mukherjee S, Roy S, Siddiqi M, Roy M. Curcumin protects DNA damage in a chronically arsenic-exposed population of West Bengal. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2010 Jun;29(6):513-24. doi: 10.1177/0960327109359020.
Bayet-Robert M, Kwiatkowski F, Leheurteur M, Gachon F, Planchat E, Abrial C, Mouret-Reynier MA, Durando X, Barthomeuf C, Chollet P. Phase I dose escalation trial of docetaxel plus curcumin in patients with advanced and metastatic breast cancer. Cancer Biol Ther. 2010 Jan;9(1):8-14.