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The Anti-Cancer Benefits of Turmeric

The Anti-Cancer Benefits of Turmeric

Curcumin, in the Indian spice, tumeric, is proving to help suppress or prevent cancers; specifically cancer of the breast, prostate, esophagus, mouth, intestines, stomach, and skin as well as leukemia.


A recent study, focused on breast cancer, found curcumin has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumoral, anti-invasive and anti-metastatic activity (Exp Ther Med. 2013 Jan; Epub 2012 Oct 19).

UCLA Johnson Comprehensive Cancer Center found promising news with head and neck cancer. Curcumin suppressed the disease in human cells and mice when applied as a paste. In a follow-up 2010 study, head and neck cancer patients took 1,000-mg tablets for a short time period. The result was reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokines (proteins) that feed  cancer. And inhibition of the cell-signaling pathway driving tumor growth.

In 2012, Carcinogenesis reported on a German study showing curcumin inhibits  metastases in prostate cancer patients.


  • The University of Michigan is one of several cancer institutes reporting combining tumeric and piperine  (in black pepper) appears to increase absorption and limit breast cancer stem cells—the cells that conventional treatments have the hardest time destroying.
  • The lead investigator in the UCLA Johnson head and neck cancer study reported: “We believe combining curcumin with chemotherapy and radiation may make it more effective.”
  • Curcumin combined with the soy isoflavone genistein reduces leukemia-promoting properties, such as growth signals and pro-inflammatory cytokines that are over-produced in leukemia (Arbiser JL et al 1998).
  • Curcumin with green tea appears effective against chronic lymphcytic leukemia (Clin Cancer Res Feb 2009).



It’s not easily absorbed, other than through the colon and into cancer tissue in the colon, so sprinkling a little on food won’t do it.

One study (Cancer Biol Ther Jan 2010) reported combining curcumin and docetaxel for advanced breast cancer resulted in “encouraging efficacy” with curcumin at 6,000 mg/d for seven consecutive days every three weeks.

Still, best dosage has not been determined, but here is what scientists behind the studies say:

For high enough concentrations, purchase curcumin as tincture, capsule, or tablet. In Malaysia and India, it’s used in paste form, and now studies are looking at this paste to hopefully deliver enough to work against skin cancer. You can also grind the actual root plant and make a drink of it.

David Servan Schreiber, MD PhD, and author of Anticancer: a New Way of Life, said, “It seems to be perfectly reasonable to recommend that all of us consume a soupspoon of tumeric every day [the powdered spice] with a pinch of pepper.” Other practitioners versed in herbology recommend a teaspoon with every meal.


While some researchers hope to find curcumin boosts chemo and radiation’s effectiveness, further study is needed to determine that it actually doesn’t interfere with treatments.  Dr. Schreiber’s rule of thumb is, “It is often safest to avoid curcumin during chemotherapy as well as three days before and after treatment. This is because it can—rarely but it can—interfere with some treatments and reduce their benefits.” (Note: There is research to suggest curcumin can interfere with the cancer drug, doxil)

The good news is that this ingredient has not been found to be toxic to healthy cells. Just the same, it’s contraindicated with some allergies and digestive  conditions as well as bleeding disorders. So before you start doing mega volumes of tumeric/curcumin, talk to an herbalist, naturopath, or dietician well researched on medicinal use of this ingredient for cancer. And ask for their recommendations on supplement manufacturers.

Note: Research is ongoing to further determine how curcumin affects DNA activity tied to cancer in humans and to learn about dosing and timing.

Article was provided by 1 Up on Cancer.

More information:

Breast Cancer and Curcumin

Curcumin and Cancer Cells

Can Curcumin Slow Cancer Growth?

Curcumin Inhibits Prostate Cancer Metastases

List of Study Citations on Curcumin and Cancer