Turmeric is a yellow spice commonly used in Indian cooking. The study pointed out that turmeric has an antioxidant called curcumin that appears to have a quelling effect on the activity of human papillomavirus (HPV).
"Turmeric has established antiviral and anti-cancer properties," said corresponding author Alok Mishra of the Emory University, Atlanta, US. "And according to our new findings, we could say that it is good for oral health too," Mishra noted.
HPV is a virus that promotes the development of cervical and oral cancer. There is no cure, but the new findings suggest that curcumin may offer a means of future control.
Mishra's research group first noted the effect of curcumin on HPV and cervical cancer cells in 2005. The antioxidant slowed the expression of HPV, suggesting that curcumin could control the extent of HPV infection.
"Since HPV-related oral cancer cases are on the rise, we tested the same hypothesis on oral cancer. They turned out to be some very interesting findings," Mishra explained.
The new research indicates that curcumin turns down the expression of HPV in infected oral cancer cells by down-regulating the levels of cellular transcription factors AP-1 and NF-kB.
The research was published in the journal ecancermedicalscience.