Turmeric's active ingredient called curcumin amplifies the therapeutic activity of highly toxic anti-inflammatory drugs used to fight colon cancer when used at high doses, Tel Aviv University researchers found.
Turmeric, a bright yellow spice from south Asia belonging to the ginger family, is the main ingredient in curries - and ancient wisdom suggests that it's also good for your health.
Dr. Shahar Lev-Ari of Tel Aviv University's School of Public Health at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and his colleagues have found that curcumin can fight cancer when used in combination with a popular anti-inflammatory drug, alleviating the inflammatory response caused when cancer takes root in the body.
A treatment based on this finding has already had promising results in human clinical trials.
"Although more testing will be needed before a possible new drug treatment is developed," says Dr. Lev-Ari, "one could combine curcumin with a lower dose of a cancer anti-inflammatory drug, to better fight colon cancer."
Research in the last few decades has shown that cancer is linked to inflammation. Several lines of evidence demonstrate that chronic inflammation in the stomach can cause gastric cancer and that inflammation in the liver from hepatitis can lead to liver cancer.
Dr. Lev-Ari and his colleagues found that Celecoxib, a popular anti-inflammatory drug commonly used to treat arthritis, also inhibits proliferation of colon cancer in laboratory settings.
Curcumin increases the anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects of Celecoxib while reducing its dose, thus reducing its toxic side-effects, including the rate of heart attack and stroke.
The results of the new study have been published in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology.