There are few disease that are more dreaded by more people than cancer. And while research into treatments and even the possibility of a cure have made great strides in recent years, those who suffer from this disease are still faced with many tough choices and side effects from chemo and radiation therapy remain severe. However, recent research has revealed that the solution to the cancer problem may be lurking right in the spice rack of kitchens all over the world – turmeric.
What is Turmeric?
Many Americans who are fans of various ethnic cuisines are familiar with turmeric from their culinary adventures. Turmeric is a pungent, orange-gold spice that for centuries has been a popular part of the cuisine of India and southwest Asia and is an ingredient in many curry dishes. However, studies have found that turmeric’s active ingredient, a compound called curcumin, doesn’t just give this spice its distinctive flavor: it also a powerful anti-cancer agent.
Curcumin’s Fight against Cancer
Researchers at the prestigious M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas have been doing multiple laboratory studies on curcumin and to date, they have found no type of cancer cell which is immune to this powerful compound and indeed it has been shown to be capable of attacking multiple kind of cancer cells simultaneously. It has been shown to be particularly effective against cancers of the liver, pancreas and prostate. It acts mainly by the suppression of an enzyme called COX-2; this enzyme causes inflammation throughout the body which often leads to cancer. Curcumin, with its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, is excellent at combatting this.
Aside from combatting this inflammation, curcumin has also been shown to help prevent the development of tumors by inhibiting the blood supply that tumor need to enlarge themselves. It has been shown to directly kill off cancer cells and to protect the digestive tract and liver from further damage.
Curcumin Prevent Metastasis
Significantly, it is has also been found that curcumin can prevent metastasis – that is, it is able to prevent the spread of cancer from the malignant tumor from spreading to other parts of the body and infecting healthy cells there. This property might prove to be extremely important for the future treatment of cancer, as metastasis is one of the major challenges for cancer patients.
More research is needed to help develop and confirm what these studies have shown, and based on the findings so far, there is good reason to continue to explore the effects that turmeric and its amazing compound curcumin can have upon inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and also in preventing this cells from infecting other parts of the body. In the meantime, adding turmeric to the diet in the form of supplemental capsules or simply by adding it to soups, stews, curries and vegetable dishes is a good way to lower the risk of developing this disease.
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