Turmeric, that spice that makes curry look like curry (it is what grants curry its distinctive yellow hue) has been classified as a superfood as of late. All kinds of turmeric products are popping up all over the place: turmeric smoothies, turmeric supplements, turmeric tonics, etc. This isn’t just due to turmeric’s unique taste. It is primarily because recent studies have suggested that turmeric may have true cancer-causing properties. Before we learn more about the potential cancer-causing ingredients, a word of warning is appropriate. Turmeric on its own cannot cure cancer, this is meant to be a supplementary treatment at best, and not a primary treatment method.
How Turmeric Prevents Stomach Cancer
One of the active compounds in turmeric is curcumin, a polyphenol that makes up about 3% of turmeric’s composition. Research done on animals and cell cultures has shown evidence that extremely high doses of curcumin can have an anti-inflammatory affect. This effect combined with curcumin’s natural antioxidant properties gives the compound the ability to inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells.
Here are some points to consider regarding the role of turmeric and curcumin in preventing stomach cancer:
1. Anti-inflammatory Properties:
Curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory effects. Chronic inflammation is linked to the development of cancer, including stomach cancer. By reducing inflammation in the body, curcumin may help in preventing the initial stages of cancer development.
2. Antioxidant Activity:
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant, which means it helps in neutralizing harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals can damage cells and their DNA, leading to the development of cancer. Antioxidants like curcumin can prevent this damage.
3. Inhibition of Cancer Cell Growth:
Studies have suggested that curcumin can interfere with the growth of cancer cells, including those in the stomach. It may induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells, preventing them from proliferating uncontrollably.
4. Inhibition of Tumor Angiogenesis:
Curcumin has been found to inhibit angiogenesis, the process through which tumors form new blood vessels to get nutrients. By inhibiting this process, curcumin can potentially limit the growth and spread of cancerous tumors.
5. Interaction with Cancer-related Pathways:
Curcumin may interfere with various molecular pathways involved in cancer development. By modulating these pathways, it can potentially disrupt the processes that lead to the formation of cancer cells.
6. Helicobacter pylori Eradication:
Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium linked to the development of stomach ulcers and cancer. Some research indicates that curcumin might help in eradicating H. pylori from the stomach, potentially reducing the risk of stomach cancer associated with this bacterium.
7. Combination Therapy:
While curcumin alone shows promise, researchers are also exploring its potential in combination with other cancer treatments. Combining curcumin with conventional therapies might enhance the effectiveness of cancer treatment and reduce the chances of recurrence.
8. Dietary Considerations:
In regions where turmeric is a dietary staple, there are observed lower rates of certain cancers, including stomach cancer. While this isn’t solely attributed to turmeric, it highlights the potential benefits of including turmeric in the diet.
It’s important to note that while these findings are promising, more research, including clinical trials, is needed to fully understand the effectiveness of turmeric and curcumin in preventing stomach cancer. If you’re considering using turmeric or curcumin supplements for health purposes, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have an existing medical condition or are taking other medications, as these supplements can interact with certain drugs.
The Problem with Turmeric
As previously stated, turmeric is not a one stop shop cancer cure. The fact is both the effects of turmeric and curcumin need more study. The studies up to this point have been too small and contained. The large-scale effects of turmeric need to be examined before we can definitively state that it is a cancer cure. Further study could also have the fortunate result of illuminating ways to more efficiently use turmeric and curcumin to prevent cancer.
In the interim though, keep including turmeric and curcumin in your diet. It may not actually improve your condition if you already have cancer, but it will certainly help to prevent the development of cancer.