Indian spice may be recipe for cancer prevention, treatment

August 2, 2005

The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is reporting test results that show curcumin, the pungent yellow spice used in Indian cooking, may prove effective for both prevention and treatment of cancer.

The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is reporting test results that show curcumin, the pungent yellow spice used in Indian cooking, may prove effective for both prevention and treatment of cancer.

Anderson researchers report that research done on cells taken from cancer patients appears to show that curcumin stops melanoma cells from proliferating along two key pathways and induces them to essentially commit suicide. The same researchers recently reported that in mice, curcumin helped stop the spread of breast cancer to the lungs and outperformed the cancer drug Taxol (Bristol-Myers Squibb) in the study (though the best results came when curcumin and Taxol were combined).

The results of those studies have led to ongoing human trials at M.D. Anderson to test curcumin's effect on pancreatic cancer and multiple myeloma. Scheduled for the future are a human trial for breast cancer and an animal trial for melanoma.

While acknowledging that curcumin's efficacy for treating cancer is still to be proven, M.D. Anderson researchers noted the possible significance of the fact that the rate of colon, breast, prostate and lung cancer is 10 times lower in India than in the United States.