Can curcumin slow cancer growth?

Source: Dr. Moynihan@MayoClinic

Question

Curcumin: Can it slow cancer growth?

Can curcumin slow cancer growth?

Answer

from Timothy J. Moynihan, M.D.

Curcumin, a substance found in the spice turmeric, has long been used in Asian medicine to treat maladies ranging from heartburn to arthritis. Now some research suggests that curcumin may help prevent or treat cancer.

Curcumin is thought to have antioxidant properties, which means it may decrease swelling and inflammation. It’s being explored as a cancer treatment because inflammation appears to play a role in cancer.

Laboratory and animal research suggests that curcumin may slow the spread of cancer and the growth of new tumor blood vessels. It may also cause cancer cells to die. In the lab, curcumin has been studied for use in treating or preventing a number of cancers, including colon, prostate and breast cancers.

Studies of curcumin in people are still in the early stages. Researchers are examining whether curcumin can reduce the risk of cancer in people with precancerous conditions. Curcumin is also being studied as a treatment for people with pancreatic cancer.

At this time, there isn’t enough evidence to recommend curcumin for preventing or treating cancer, but research is ongoing. As always, talk with your doctor before using any herbal supplement.

  • Timothy J. Moynihan, M.D.

    photo of Timothy Moynihan, M.D. Timothy Moynihan, M.D.


    “As a practicing medical oncologist, I meet with patients and families every day to help manage their course through this disease called cancer. This experience provides unique insight into the needs of cancer patients, their families and loved ones and brings into sharp focus the need for reliable information to be readily available in terms that can be easily understood.” — Dr. Timothy Moynihan

    Dr. Timothy Moynihan believes that providing consumers with accurate, timely information on the broad, complex topic of cancer is the biggest challenge facing medical websites. As the guiding force behind our cancer content, he makes sure Mayo Clinic meets the test.

    Dr. Moynihan, born in Las Vegas, N.M., and raised in Denver, is a consultant in medical oncology at Mayo Clinic and an associate professor at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn. He’s board certified in internal medicine, medical oncology, and hospice and palliative care medicine.

    He did his medical oncology training at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and then went on to the University of Minnesota and St. Paul Regions Medical Center for seven years before moving to Mayo Clinic in 1999. Dr. Moynihan is medical director of the Mayo Clinic hospice.

    Dr. Moynihan serves as the education chair for the Department of Oncology and the fellowship program director. Four times he has been selected as Teacher of the Year in medical oncology and elected to the Teacher of the Year Hall of Fame.

    Past honors include distinguished clinical teacher at the University of Minnesota Medical School, best internist at the Medical College of Wisconsin and recipient of the Upjohn Achievement Award for Excellence in Medicine. Dr. Moynihan serves on several national committees for the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

    “The Internet provides a ready source of information on a wide range of topics of interest to those affected by cancer,” Dr. Moynihan says. “The difficulty is trying to decide which sites provide reputable information and which information is relevant to each individual patient. The long history and tradition of excellence associated with Mayo Clinic assures you that information provided will be reliable, up-to-date and comprehensive.”

    (As a side note from the author of this blog, Curcumin or tumeric capsules are available at your local health food store, if this is something you would like to pursue.)

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