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Could Eating Curry Fight Cancer?

You know how your mom wants to feed you more curry every time you go home to visit? Well, she might just be saving you from cancer! Mama really does know best. The healing stories are no longer an old wives’ tale or mommy’s silly stories to plump you up.

Ingredients of curry powder, such as turmeric, have deep roots in South Asian culture. In addition to being an essential component of traditional ceremonies in many South Asian weddings, it has also been a common spice used for skin conditions in the past, and now has been shown to aid in killing cancer cells, according to BBC News, the Cork Cancer Research Center at the University of Cork conducted a study in association with Mercy University Hospital, and the Necki Institute of Experimental Biology in Warsaw, Poland. The researcher heading this study, Dr. Geraldine O’Sullivan-Coyne, concluded that curcumin kills esophageal cells without causing optosis (cell suicide). Esophageal cancer is the cancer that forms in the tissue lining of the esophagus (a muscular tube that passes food from the throat to the stomach). The two types of esophageal cancer are squamous cell carcinoma (cancer begins in the “flat cell lining” of the esophagus) and adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release

mucus and other fluids). Researchers have discovered that after the esophageal cancer cells, which are often resistant to cell death, were exposed to the curcumin, a “lethal cell signal” was triggered, thus the cells digested themselves in a process known as mitotic catastrophe. While it is important to kill the cancer cells, it is equally important to make sure that healthy cells remain unaffected, which the curcumin extract does effectively. This finding allows researchers and scientists to broaden the treatment options available for cancer patients. This especially applies to cancers that are resistant to the effects of chemotherapy. Furthermore, this finding opens doors to future investigations that aim to find other natural treatment options, such as possible plant derived substances.

The rise of esophageal cancer rates occurred since the 1970s, with an increase in obesity, alcohol consumption, and other reflux related diseases. According to Cancer.net, it was estimated that in 2009, 16,470 (12,940 men and 3,530 women) in the United States would be diagnosed with esophageal cancer. As a follow up, it was predicted that 14,530 deaths (11,490 men and 3,040 women) would occur. It is clear that from the statistics that esophageal cancer is about four times more common among men than women; the seventh most common cause of cancer death that occurs among men.

The five-year relative survival rate (percentage of people who survived at least five years after their cancer was detected) is about 16% for people who had esophageal cancer. Dr. Sharon McKenna, a researcher of the study at the Cork Cancer Research Center explained that the discovery of tumeric as a potential new treatment that has been shown to destroy gullet cancer cells in the lab within 24 hours, which indicates a promising future for the “therapeutic value” of the curcumin.

Thus, with the looming threat of an increase in the statistics of another growing form of cancer, there might still be hope for finding a cure with curry powder! As my parents always tell me, eat healthy, naturally grown foods…after all nature is the best healer.

Further information can be found in the 28 October issue of the British Journal of Cancer. —MUNIA ISLAM

Sources:

1. BBC News
2. Medical Health Today
3. National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov)
4. Cancer.net

Photo Credit:

1. Newser

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