Wednesday Bubble: Turmeric…too good to be true?

Posted by on Sep 9, 2009 in breast cancer, HRT | 4 comments


I’ve been hearing lots lately about turmeric, that lovely Indian spice that turns everything it touches a sunny shade of yellow. Turmeric is in the ginger family, and its active ingredient is called cucurmin. Not only is it well-regarded in Chinese and Indian medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties, but from a strictly nutritional standpoint, it is an excellent source of iron, manganese and also provides vitamin B6, dietary fiber and potassium.

However, there has also been lots of buzz over turmeric’s potential as an anti-cancer agent, which is why I was intrigued when I ran across an experimental study published in the Advanced online edition of Menopause suggesting that cucurmin may slow the development of breast cancer tumours in rats exposed to hormone therapy. In this study, rats were first given growth proteins that promote blood vessel growth,  implanted with pellets containing hormone therapy and then treated with turmeric. The results showed that turmeric delayed tumour growth, decreased the overall incidence of tumours and also reduce their ability to multiply.

Results of both animal and human studies have shown that hormone therapy can significantly increase breast cancer risk. Although the action for this is not entirely understood, the progestin component in hormone therapy appears to accelerate tumour development by promoting chemical signals by cells that stimulate new blood vessels. When overstimulated, this can cause disease, and allow tumour cells to grow. In this study, turmeric either slowed or prevented this action.

Mind you, this is an animal study and the jury is still year’s out. However, these promising results may prompt researchers to evaluate whether or not turmeric is an active anti-cancer agent in women who have been exposed to hormone therapy and are at risk for breast cancer.

Meanwhile, Indian food is sounding like a great idea for dinner tonight!


  1. 9-9-2009

    Hey Liz,

    Great article as usual. Thanks for sharing. Turmeric was actually something my dad used with his cancer. While on that, he actually had his tumor decrease in size. Then, he stopped taking it, and it grew. Not sure it is was just the turmeric, but wouldn’t hurt to add it to a cancer treatment

    • 9-9-2009

      Kim – interesting. I am curious if some tumours react to turmeric and others don’t and also, if cancer stage has anything to do with results. I will look forward to some studies in humans.

  2. 3-22-2010

    i’m a big fan of natural remedies. blessing…. from Lisa

    • 3-22-2010

      Lisa. Sometimes the best therapeutic strategies come from nature!

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