Skip to comments.In cancer fight, a spice brings hope to the table
Posted on 07/11/2005 1:19:41 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the epitome of the conventional cancer establishment, is reporting promising test results on an unconventional weapon: a common spice used in Indian cooking.
In a host of studies, M.D. Anderson researchers are showing that curcumin, the pungent yellow spice in both turmeric and curry powders, has potent anti-cancer properties. They say it may prove effective for both prevention and treatment.
"Curcumin's promise is enormous," said Bharat B. Aggarwal, a professor of cancer medicine in M.D. Anderson's department of experimental therapeutics.
"It appears to inhibit multiple pathways by which cancer grows, and we know it's nontoxic."
Aggarwal added that "in a day when Vioxx and Bextra are off the table, curcumin may be one of the best new hopes on the table" a reference to popular painkillers (Cox-2 inhibitors) taken off the market after reports they increased the risk of heart disease. Cox-2 inhibitors were considered potential cancer prevention agents because they'd been shown to inhibit tumor growth.
The latest study on curcumin is available today on the journal Cancer's Web site.
In it, M.D. Anderson researchers demonstrate in the laboratory how curcumin stops melanoma cells from proliferating along two key pathways and induces them to essentially commit suicide. The cells were taken from patients.
A month ago, the same researchers reported that in mice, curcumin helped stop the spread of breast cancer to the lungs. It outperformed the cancer drug Taxol in the study, though the best results came with a combination of curcumin and Taxol.
Putting it to the test The results of those studies have led to ongoing Phase I human trials at M.D. Anderson testing curcumin's ability to stop the growth of pancreatic cancer and multiple myeloma.
Still to come are a human trial for breast cancer and an animal trial for melanoma.
Elsewhere, researchers are studying curcumin with lung, colon, head and neck, oral and prostate cancers.
Aggarwal said the thing distinguishing curcumin from other natural products touted for their medicinal properties is the science behind it.
Herbs such as garlic, saw palmetto and gingko may receive more ink, but there have been about 2,000 studies on curcumin, says Aggarwal, easily more than any other natural product.
It is rich in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties.
Most intriguing, the rate of colon, breast, prostate and lung cancer is 10 times lower in India than in the United States.
Financial obstacles In the melanoma study, the M.D. Anderson team found curcumin shut down nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB), a powerful protein known to promote an abnormal inflammatory response that leads to a variety of disorders, including arthritis and cancer; the protein known as IKK that switches NF-kB "on;" and STAT3, another pathway involved in the spread of tumors.
Aggarwal noted that the greatest obstacle to further study of curcumin is financial. No pharmaceutical company is likely to develop a natural product that can't be patented so the only sources of funding are government agencies.
Curcumin is available in capsule form at health food stores, though the purity of some brands may be in question because herbs aren't regulated. Aggarwal's team worked with a 96 percent pure product.
"Curcumin's efficacy for treating cancer is still to be proven," Aggarwal said. "But I would recommend it for prevention right now, based on animal studies. People have been eating it for thousands of years so we know it's safe."
Ground from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, curcumin is a member of the ginger family.
It has long had multiple uses in India and other Asian nations: food preservative, folk medicine, coloring agent, body cleanser and food flavorer (2 to 5 percent of turmeric is curcumin, for instance).
"Most intriguing, the rate of colon,
breast, prostate and lung cancer is
10 times lower in India than in the
Cancer has been slowly killing off my family for the last few years. I'm hoping they solve it before it's my turn. I can't think of very many worse ways to go.
Head to the spice isle today.
***...It is rich in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. ...***
This undoubtedly has more to do with the cancer numbers than curcumin. However, this is in fact an exciting possibility for cancer treatment.
More curry chicken please!
Seems to me that this should have been the next step.
Unless of course, the media was trying to invent news. But they wouldn't do that, would they?!? ;P
Looks like the average Indian doesn't live long enough to get cancer.
I am so hoping that I get the genetic side from my mom. Seems like most of my dads side of the family has died early (50-60), almost all from cancer. The women on my moms side live long. My grandma is 88, and her mom died at 92. I think I'll go to the store...just in case.
I doubt it could hurt!
Why can't they somehow discover someday that bacon prevents cancer?
My aunt sent me an unusual plant with pretty foliage many years ago.
I had to go to Exotica (THE encyclopedia of plants) to determine what it was.
Turns out it was curcuma inodora.
I wonder whether the inodora variety has the same chemical structure.
It is a very showy plant, at first glance reminding you of a colorful bromeliad.
It's been 25 years, and more, since I went on the Great Hunt for the Sure Cure for Cancer with my long-lost first wife... she had Kaposi's hemmoragic sarcoma, then malignant melanoma- but what set her off the deep end was when her brother got melanoma, too.
We started in Vancouver, and went all the way down to Contreras's clinic in Mexico, looking for "something- anything" that would offer an alternative to the dire prognosis from conventional medicine. Laetril, wheatgrass juice & sprouts, retinotherapy, reflexology, DMSO-- you name it, we tried it- And yes, her brother died eventually, despite the best conventional, and other, treatment...
while I remain unconvinced that "alternatives" offer any sort of sure cure, they did have snippets of knowledge that medicine poo-poos, yet- why not try diet, and exercise? Can't hurt you, you may feel better, or at least different for a while.
Life is worth fighting for.
Thank you for the info.
I know what you mean.
It's just anecdotal, but the longest-lived people I have known were active, and did hard labor-- usually in the sunlight every day, just about up 'til the day they died. And many of them ate what I call a farmhand's or lumberjack's diet- eggs, meat, pancakes, bacon... plenty of vegtables, often cooked in some sort of fat, fried food. But they kept moving, until they could move no more.
A year or more ago, we had a doctor who was a freeper, he wrote to me about using the natural cancer cures for my
daughter in law.
He felt that the natural cures should be used, as well as the treatments from the doctor.
He felt that the addition of the natural cures would increase the chances of survival by 20 to 25 percent.
Theresa's cancer was to far along for any cure and we lost her last fall.
My sympathy for the loss of your wife.
This looks more promising than some...thanks for posting this.
I'm very sorry to hear that- there are just some conditions that can't be survived. It doesn't make it any easier to bear, however.
The one thing I'll say in favor of Contreras's clinic is that they tried everything- conventional or not- and sometimes bought time, or even saved those considered beyond hope.
I met a family in Ohio where two sisters and brother lived to 100,102,103.... All were bright and active until the end (the last died of complications from a broken hip or would probably still be alive)
Most people do not give genetics enough respect because there's no way to improve your genes. Still I suppose diet and exercise couldn't hurt.
Many many friends of mine have been treated for their various cancers at MD Anderson, and most have done real well. I have yet to hear anyone criticize the treatment they have gotten there.
Mine too. I've lost my mom, two nephews and my sister to this curse. I know there are natural cures but the FDA and FTC won't pursue them because there's no MONEY involved in it. I won't give a dime to the Cancer Society until they start pursing these natural cures or at least testing them.
Cinnamon is supposed to be very good for diabetics, too. I think many spices will be coming to the forefront.
I've heard many excellent things about them- at that time in my own adventures, Duke was leading with immunothearapy for melanoma, so we ended up there. It does help to have a Doc you really trust, which we did- old family friend. I actually had young medical people track me down in those neo-gothic corridors, grab my hand, and ask, "Say, I've heard you know Marv Engel? Hellofa doctor!"
Brother I went on that same search with my later wife as well. Nothing worked not the most ancient nor the most modern and no one could have fought more persistently or with more courage than my dear Arlene. It will be eight years in September since she passed at the age of 43.
I had a cheeseburger yesterday with onions and mayo. It was sooo good. Today I'll have a boca burger in repentance (smile). I think a vegan diet is the best if you have any kind of illness but I can't just do carrot and other fruit/veggie juices and vegetables. I tried it and my bowels were working just great but it's a hard one to stay on for long. I'm not supposed to eat a lot of green veggies because of the renal diet and being on coumadin, but I have a lot of salads. M
Well, it's no wonder...have you ever eaten Indian food? Let's just call it "intestinal Drano."
God bless you neighbor- life goes on, but it leaves a hole in your heart that nothing ever really fills. I remarried after a few years, and it kind of spooks me when I realize how many years I've had with wife #2 compared to the little more that seven with my first. And how, every once in a while, I'll have the errant thought, "boy, wait 'til I tell Helen about that one!" and then realize I'm not ever going home to that home again.
We have always thought that GOD put on earth something to cure every disease, all we have to do is locate them.
I know several dozen "strict" vegitarians and several vegans. Down to the last person they are the unhealthiest looking people I've ever known. They are gaunt, stay sick all winter and lack energy. Forget about trying to find somewhere to go out to dinner with them too. One even suffered a broken arm (humerus bone) in flight in a hang glider under normal flight conditions. She is a nurse practitioner and knows and understands the benefits of good nutrition. She has since begun eating meat again, her color came back, she has boundless energy and she no longer stays sick during the cold and flu season.
Cancer is such an insidious, awful disease. However, once in a while, you run across a patient who has cancer and has undergone treatments that to me seemed worse than the disease itself, but they hang on somehow, and keep going.
Someday, the cure will be found, but until that day, there will be many horrors such as you experienced. God bless you both, and your families.
When the article states: "curcumin, the pungent yellow spice in both turmeric and curry powders" what it really means is "curcumin, otherwise known as turmeric, which is the spice in curry powder which makes it yellow".
It's TURMERIC! Same family as ginger and golden seal. I use it like golden seal because it is so much cheaper. It helps cuts and wounds, to sprinkle on them -helps heal them up. Make a paste and apply to boils, rashes or pimples. Of course, turns the skin an appealing shade of yellow. :-)
It's good to eat it every day in food.
Indians eat turmeric every day. I doubt the British eat it every day.
Usually when lifespans are determined, all the infant and child deaths are figured in, but once a person attains adulthood they may live to an old age.
Just like we read that in the middle ages, or a couple of hundred years ago in our country, the lifespan was shorter. Actually many people lived to a ripe old age, but the infant mortality was higher so it brought down the average. It's not that everyone in the middle ages died at 40. I'm sure it's the same in India - there are plenty of old people there.
There is a world of difference between vegetarians who eat milk products, and vegans. Vegans are nutcases who ruin their health.
I have been a milk product eating vegetarian for 35 yrs, raised two kids on the diet who have stuck with it even into adulthood, and they are healthy beautiful women.
It is the lack of milk products which destroy the health of vegans, or those whackjobs who eat only raw food.
It can be called "karma" (though most people misunderstand the meaning of the word), or destiny. I've seen two friends, one a very, very dear friend, live very healthy lives with good diets and habits, and succumb to cancer at 28 and a young 50.
What really matters is not how long we walk the earth, but what our destination is after we leave. What lessons we learn here.
I've had some severe illnesses in my time, and they have taught me lessons I value like treasures.
Soldiers call it "seeing the elephant," and there are many ways to do this.
Hmm - could you explain "seeing the elephant"?
I was 31 at the time, and the richness of ironies still rankles, a little. In all the tests they ran, they never x-rayed her head-- she had been born with it. Or so the pathologist claimed. If she had not had her neck broken in a wreck ( which, among many other things, caused chronically low [ 60/40 ] blood pressure ) it probably would have burst long before that, since prior to becoming handicapped, she was quite the athlete. Archer, runner, swimmer, horsewoman.
No question about it...cinnamon is an essential part of my family's daily diet. Cancer treatment is one issue, but a cure? Never happen.