How does turmeric work to fight cancer?

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.

Some of the most exciting news surrounding turmeric is its potential to slow down the progression of cancer and even to prevent it from ever occurring. People who eat foods with turmeric as a part of their regular diets show lower rates of cancer. In the United States, the most common forms of cancer are colon cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer. In India where turmeric is an integral part of people's diets, the rate of these types of cancers is 10 times lower.

Several studies indicate its strong potential to combat cancer. When used in conjunction with Taxol or Paclitaxel in chemotherapy for breast cancer, turmeric strengthens the effects of chemotherapy and helps to reduce its side effects. When added to cultures of leukemia cells, turmeric halts the replication of the cells. Initial studies of turmeric suggest it can slow down the spread of tumors in mice.

Working as an antioxidant, turmeric is a promising agent to prevent and combat colon cancer. Indian men who ingest turmeric all the time are rarely diagnosed with colon cancer. Treatments using turmeric for lung and prostate cancer are also encouraging. Certainly more time and study is needed to fully understand the benefits of turmeric as a preventive and curative measure in combating cancer.

Continue Learning about Cancer Treatment

Surprising Treatment for C. diff and Chemo
Surprising Treatment for C. diff and Chemo
Tomatoes were once considered poisonous -- even in Italy! -- and early pioneers were convinced that bathing was an open invitation to catching a deadl...
Read More
What are triggers for hot flashes after cancer treatment?
Mark A. O'Rourke, MDMark A. O'Rourke, MD
Hot flashes for women with breast cancer occur when estrogen levels in the body decrease as a result...
More Answers
What kinds of cancer can be treated with immunotherapy?
Penn MedicinePenn Medicine
Immunotherapy is not appropriate for all patients and all types of cancer. At this time, hematologis...
More Answers
How Has Cancer Treatment Evolved Over the Years?
How Has Cancer Treatment Evolved Over the Years?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.