Turmeric is a common food flavoring and coloring in Asian cooking. Animal and laboratory studies have found that curcumin, an antioxidant that is an active ingredient in turmeric, demonstrates some anticancer effects. Antioxidants are compounds that can protect the body’s cells from damage caused by activated oxygen molecules known as free radicals. Laboratory studies have also shown that curcumin interferes with several important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth, and spread.
Several types of cancer cells can be inhibited by curcumin in the laboratory, and curcumin slowed the spread of certain cancers in some animal studies. However, clinical research is still needed to determine curcumin's role in cancer prevention and treatment in humans.