Natural Health Tips

Turmeric Compound Kills Esophageal Cancer Cells

Curcumin is the main active compound found in the spice turmeric, popularly known as the curry spice. Curcumin has previously shown anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antifungal, antibacterial and anticancer activities. New research has now found a new way that this powerfully healing spice can prevent esophageal cancer.

A study published in the British Journal of Cancer found that curcumin was able to kill esophageal cancer cells in the laboratory, suggesting that it may be a potent, anticancer agent that can be used to treat the disease.

For the study, researchers in Ireland treated cultured esophageal cancer cells with curcumin - the yellow pigment found in the spice turmeric.

They found that the chemical compounds started to destroy cancer cells within 24 hours. The research paper abstract concluded:

"Curcumin can induce cell death by a mechanism that is not reliant on apoptosis induction, and thus represents a promising anticancer agent for prevention and treatment of oesophageal cancer."

Research paper details:

O'Sullivan-Coyne G, O'Sullivan GC, O'Donovan TR, et al. Curcumin induces apoptosis-independent death in esophageal cancer cells. Br J cancer. 2009 Nov 3;101(9):1585-95.

The authors found that the way curcumin caused cancer cells to die is different from the way many other chemopreventative phytochemicals do, which is often through cell apoptosis, a process of programmed cell death. They also said there is a potential for scientists to develop a drug to treat esophageal cancer based on curcumin.

Turmeric is a yellowish orange spice turmeric commonly used to flavor curries, and its main active phytochemical, curcumin has been the subject of many research studies. It has shown remarkable promise in helping the human body in a wide variety of ways. Turmeric helps to protect cells from free radical damage, due to its high antioxidant content from its curcuminoids. These curcuminoids deliver antioxidants that have been found to be:

  • 5 to 8 times stronger than Vitamin E and also stronger than vitamin C
  • 3 times more powerful than grape seed extract
  • Strong enough to scavenge the hydroxyl radical - considered by many to be the most reactive of all oxidants