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Curried dishes around the world wouldn’t be as delicious without turmeric. Turmeric is an orange-colored spice native to India and Indonesia, revered for its culinary and therapeutic benefits. Turmeric gives the curry its bright yellow or orange color and contributes to its peppery, warm, and mildly bitter taste. It also provides a tangy and ginger-like fragrance.
Turmeric is a root crop known for its tough brown skin and bright orange flesh. For more than 5,000 years, this root crop has been cultivated in the tropical regions of Asia. During the 13th century, turmeric was introduced to western countries by Arab traders.
Its popularity has slowly spread across the globe. Today, the leading producers of this aromatic spice are India, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Haiti, and Jamaica.
Turmeric has been used in the Chinese and Indian pharmacopoeia for thousands of years. It is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, used in treating several conditions such as toothache, chest pain, urinary tract infection, flatulence, jaundice, menstrual discomforts, bruises, hemorrhage, and colic.
Today, researchers are investigating the countless benefits of turmeric and it has shown incredible promise in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
Curcumin versus Cancer
Turmeric’s active ingredient is an extracted compound called curcumin. Studies have shown that curcumin helps prevent several forms of cancer including breast, lung, stomach, liver, and colon because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It stops the development of cancer by interfering with the cellular signaling aspects of the chronic disease.
Lab results have found curcumin capable of…
Inhibiting COX-2, an enzyme that causes negative inflammation, which can lead to cancer.
Impeding vascular epithelial growth (a polypeptide that stimulates new blood supply) to starve cancer cells of their oxygen and fuel source.
Inducing a tumor suppressor gene.
Stopping metastasis (spread from one organ to another) of cancer cells.
Killing large cell B-cell lymphoma cells (the most common reason for non-Hodgkin lymphoma).
Preventing regrowth of cancer stem cells.
Based on a 2011 study conducted by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, researchers found that the curcumin extract effectively differentiates between cancer cells and normal cells while activating cancer cell death (apoptosis).
Investigators concluded, “Curcumin exerts its biological influence through epigenetic modulation, a process that continues downstream staying one step ahead of adverse genetic influences.”
One study was conducted to investigate how much curcumin colorectal patients could safely take. In the trial, participants took 3.6 grams, considered to be a high dose of curcumin. Results revealed that high doses of curcumin didn’t cause ill effects among colorectal patients.
Curcumin is not well absorbed in the blood but it is absorbed well into the colon lining, giving it an advantage against cancerous tissues in the colon. It can help prevent prostate cancer because of its ability to interfere with the spread of cancer cells and inflammatory responses that are considered to be the precursors of cancer development. Curcumin also fights prostate cancer by reducing the expression of sex hormone receptors in the prostate gland.
It has shown incredible promise in the prevention of cervical cancer, the leading cause of cancer death among women in developing nations. Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory property blocks the factors that induce human papilloma virus and activates cancer cell death within the uterine lining.
(Image: Representation only)