Originally published October 28 2009
Curcumin inhibits cancers of the head and neck
by S. L. Baker, features writer
(NaturalNews) The yellowish orange Indian spice turmeric, used to flavor curries, contains a remarkable phytochemical known as curcumin -- and this natural substance is the target of feverish research across a spectrum of medical disciplines. The reason? Curcumin has shown remarkable promise in helping the human body in a wide variety of ways. For example, as NaturalNews has previously reported, it may prevent Alzheimer's Disease (http://www.naturalnews.com/026861_curcumin_v...) and type 2 diabetes (http://www.naturalnews.com/024644.html) as well as fight breast and colorectal malignancies (http://www.naturalnews.com/020527_cancer_cur...). Now research just released at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) annual meeting in San Diego shows curcumin may block nicotine-induced head and neck cancers, even in people who smoke.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the majority of head and neck cancers start in cells that line the mucosal surfaces such as the mouth, nose, and throat. Normal mucosal cells viewed through a microscope look like scales (squamous), so head and neck cancers of this type are labeled head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). However, some head and neck cancers begin in other types of cells; adenocarcinomas, for example, originate in glandular cells. In all, the NCI web site states, head and neck cancers account for three to five percent of cancers in the US, with about 40,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The vast majority, approximately 85 percent of these cancers, are linked to tobacco use.
In a study presented at the AAO-HNSF meeting, researchers pointed out that HNSCC is a serious problem, taking the lives of about 13,000 Americans annually. What's more, even if the cancers are successfully treated initially, they often recur because many people continue to smoke. While nicotine itself has not been shown to directly cause cancer, the scientists noted it can trigger the process that turns normal cells into cancerous ones. So the researchers looked for a safe food compound that could be used as a bioactive agent to both prevent cancer and to also block the harmful effects of nicotine.
They investigated the effects of curcumin on malignant growths by using a variety of head and neck cancer cell lines. The HNSCC cells were pre-treated with curcumin in the laboratory and then exposed to nicotine. The results showed the curcumin stopped nicotine from activating cancer-causing cells.
Additional curcumin research is also in the news. Scientists from the Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biologicas in Mexico City published a review in the journal Liver International recently pointing out that along with documented anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties, curcumin also appears to have the ability to heal liver injuries. And researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta just reported in the journal Breast Cancer that curcumin "could provide a novel, non-toxic therapy, which could lead to improved survival for patients with triple negative breast cancer." Currently, this type of breast cancer is only treated by traditional western medicine with cytotoxic chemotherapy -- and when this treatment fails, as it often does, no other mainstream therapy is available.
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