The chemical curcumin (an extract found in the bright yellow curry spice turmeric) has long been thought to have healing powers and is already being tested as a treatment for arthritis and even dementia. However, in recent laboratory tests it has also been shown to destroy gullet cancer cells. They breakthrough came about when it was discovered that the curcumin triggered lethal cell death signals in the cancerous cell calling them to digest themselves.

Tumeric root - image credit Thamizhpparithi Maari
Dr Sharon McKenna - from the Cork Cancer Research Centre - and her team found that curcumin started to kill cancer cells within 24 hours. She said,

‘...Scientists have known for a long time that natural compounds have the potential to treat faulty cells that have become cancerous and we suspected that curcumin might have therapeutic value...’

Cancer experts say the findings in the British Journal of Cancer could help doctors find new treatments. This was confirmed by Dr Lesley Walker - director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK – who had this to say on the matter,

‘...This is interesting research which opens up the possibility that natural chemicals found in turmeric could be developed into new treatments for oesophageal cancer. Rates of oesophageal cancer have gone up by more than a half since the 70s and this is thought to be linked to rising rates of obesity, alcohol intake and reflux disease so finding ways to prevent this disease is important too...’

Each year around 7,800 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in the UK making it the sixth most common cause of cancer death. This accounts for almost 5% of all UK cancer deaths.

Thamizhpparithi Maari file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

No comments: