Turmeric, the bright yellow root that is ground and put in foods for its deep flavor and beautiful color, is not only a tasty addition to curries and salads, but is also a known cancer-fighter. Turmeric is most often found in cuisines of the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Southeast Asian regions, but as the health benefits of this classic spice become more widely known, its popularity is growing.
Responsible for many of its benefits, curcuminoids are the active components of turmeric. Curcumin, one of these specific compounds, is frequently cited as the most potent component of the spice, though the term is also used applying to cucuminoids as a whole.
As Anthony Guicciardi reported more than three years ago, scientists studying the effects of curcumin found it to be a potent medicine when used against brain cancer cells. Glioblastoma (GBM) is a fatal form of brain cancer. The study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that curcumin was able to decrease these tumors by 81 percent in 9 out of the 11 studies.
Another study in 2008 looked specifically at the effects of curcumin on breast cancer cells. The researchers found the compound was able to inhibit the spread and growth of these cells by altering the function of alpha-6 beta-4.
Read: Doctor Explains How Cooking with Turmeric Leads to Amazing Health Benefits
In addition, scientists revealed that curcumin is able to also go to the source of the cancer—inhibiting cancer stem cells.
As far back as 1996, scientists were reporting on the anti-cancer properties of turmeric, finding that “even low doses of turmeric inhibit the accumulation of DNA mutations, reduce DNA damage, repair precancerous lesions, lower the urine concentration of mutagenic chemicals in smokers and inhibit formation of tumors in the breast, gut, mouth and skin,” according to NaturalNews.
Few studies have been carried out in a clinical setting. Instead, these benefits are being revealed in labs, where curcumin is directly applied to cells. Still, if the spice is working at a cellular level, it isn’t a stretch to imagine that it would have similar benefits when working on the body as a synergistic system.
“Curcumin is an amazing natural compound that has profound effects on cancer and hundreds of other diseases,” said Gucciardi. “While it has been widely studied compared to many other nutritional substances, studies are only beginning to recognize the healing effects of curcumin and turmeric.”