Cancer, world-wide, remains a leading cause of death and this is true both in the developed and developing world. One of the most common forms of cancer both in the United States and globally – is colon or colorectal cancer. This can be a very difficult form of the disease to treat particularly if it is well-advanced and often can result in the removal of colon and replacement with a colostomy, a radical surgery which patients can find it hard to adapt to.
However, the search is on for colon cancer treatments that go beyond the traditional triad of surgery, radiation or chemo. And one of the more natural treatments – which many studies have proven to be very effective is the use of turmeric.
The Search Begins in India
When looking at global data about incidence of cancer, it has long been remarked that the Indian population has much lower rates than many other countries. One theory put forward to explain this is the heavy use of turmeric the deep golden spice which lends its color and flavor to so many curries in the Indian cuisine.
One team of Indian researchers, back in 2001, decided to see if there was any scientific reason for this speculation. In a small study of 15 patients with advanced colorectal cancer, it was found that regular supplementation with turmeric was able to stall and slow the advance of their cancers. While that does not sound like a high success rate, it is important to keep in mind that these were patients who had not responded to traditional therapies like chemo or radiation and who cancer was very advanced indeed. Also, it is important to note that there were found to be no side effects with turmeric treatment even at high dosages.
America Gets Interested
Studies like the one in India on the relationship between turmeric and colon cancer piqued the interest of researchers in the United States. Five years after this original study, scientists from two premiere U.S. medical institutions, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins, looked at turmeric as a possible treatment for a rare form of colon cancer called adenomatous polyposis, in which polyps form in the colon and/or rectum and become cancerous if not removed.
The patients in this study had between 5 and 45 polyps at the beginning of the trial. After six months of turmeric supplementation, however, it was found that each patient had roughly half the number of polyps with which they had begun the study. This is considered to be a significant finding.
In another American study on smokers with colorectal aberrant crypt foci (growths which are precursors to the polyps that can turn cancerous), it was found that daily use of turmeric for as little as the month led to a significant drop in the number of foci and thus a much lower risk for developing colon cancer in the first place.
Hopefully, these studies will spur on further research on the role of turmeric for treatment of colorectal cancer. This very common form of cancer can have serious repercussions for those who suffer from it and finding natural therapies like turmeric which appear to have few side effects could greatly improve quality of life and chances of survival.
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