A pill that combines chemicals in turmeric and onions has been found to help prevent colon cancer according to a new study by Johns Hopkins investigators.
The research was led by Dr. Francis M. Giardiello of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Dr. Marcia Cruz-Correa of Johns Hopkins and the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine.
Giardiello says, "We believe this is the first proof of principle that these substances have significant effects in patients with FAP."
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is a hereditary disorder characterized by the development of several hundreds of colorectal adenomas (polyps) which would eventually lead to colon cancer.
According to Cruz-Correa earlier observational studies in populations that consume large amounts of curry has revealed that curcumin, the yellow pigment extracted from turmeric, powdered root of the herb curcuma longa as well as an important ingredient in Asian curries might be effective in preventing and/or treating cancer in the lower intestine. Laboratory research on rodents has only validated this observation.
She said curcumin has been given to cancer patients, and previous studies have demonstrated it is well tolerated even at high doses whereas non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that were used as a treatment often left side effects, like gastrointestinal ulcerations and bleeding.
Quercetin a flavanoid derived from plants and known to have anti-oxidant properties has been shown to inhibit growth of colon cancer cell lines in humans as well as abnormal colorectal cells in rodents. It is found in a variety of foods including onions, green tea and red wine.
According to Giardiello, curcumin is the key agent in prevention of colon cancer, although these substances were administered together.