It is already known to us that some popular spices might slow or prevent the growth of cancer. Dr. Rebecca Liu, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, and colleagues tested ginger powder dissolved in solution by putting it on ovarian cancer cell cultures.
It was astonishing to know that ginger can kill ovarian cancer cells. But the study was done using cells in a lab dish, which is a long way from finding that it works in actual cancer patients, but it is the first step to testing the idea. Ginger killed the ovarian cancer cells in two different ways -- through a self-destruction process called apoptosis and through autophagy in which cells digest themselves.
The researchers presented the result during the meeting held at the American Association for Cancer Research. This is a very innovative and useful approach as most ovarian cancer patients develop recurrent disease that eventually becomes resistant to standard chemotherapy, which is associated with resistance to apoptosis. Statistics according to the American Cancer Society show that ovarian cancer kills 16,000 out of the 22,000 U.S. women who are diagnosed with it every year.
Ginger has also been shown to help control inflammation, which can contribute to the development of ovarian cancer cells. Another study found that capsaicin, which makes chili peppers hot, when fed to mice caused apoptosis of the pancreatic cancer cells. The study was conducted by Sanjay Srivastava of the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine. He said that capsaicin triggered the cancerous cells to die off and significantly reduced the size of the tumors. The spicy compound killed only the pancreatic tumor cells but not the normal, healthy pancreas cells. Pancreatic cancer is highly deadly, killing 31,000 of the 32,000.
It is also reported by the researchers in Los Angeles that capsaicin killed prostate tumor cells. Other studies have shown that turmeric, a yellow spice which is an essential part of the Indian cooking, may help stop the spread of lung cancer and breast cancer in mice. But further research and concrete evidence is necessary to show that these compounds are as effective in human cancer patients as in one of their testing models.