Turmeric Helps Prevent Cancer

In the March 2, 2009 issue of Balance Point, you learned why the herbal spice turmeric (also known in Chinese Medicine as Tuber Curcumae, or “yu jin”) is the herb I would choose if I could only take one herbal supplement.

Now, additional research shows that turmeric has the power to reduce certain breast, stomach, colon & prostate cancers. Since cancer is the number 2 cause of death in the U.S. (right behind heart disease), this is outstanding news.

How does Turmeric accomplish this powerful feat? Research is ongoing, but it seems there are numerous mechanisms at work. Scientists at M. D. Anderson, Texas, summarized these effect by pointing to research indicating that Turmeric suppresses a wide variety of tumor cells by:

  • Down-regulating transcription factors NF-kappa B, AP-1 and Egr-1;

  • Down-regulating the expression of COX2, LOX, NOS, MMP-9, uPA, TNF, chemokines, cell surface adhesion molecules and cyclin D1;

  • Down-regulating growth factor receptors (such as EGFR and HER2);

  • Inhibiting the activity of c-Jun N-terminal kinase, protein tyrosine kinases and protein serine/threonine kinases

Translation: turmeric stops cancer cells in their tracks by suppressing their growth, supporting the immune system, regulating blood flow and lowering inflammation.

There is a caution to anyone already diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy – turmeric can interfere with the desired effect of some chemotherapeutic agents and with radiation treatment. That makes it crucially important to discuss possible interactions with your physician.

Given that each person has different responses to the same herb, vitamin or supplement, the optimal dose to take for prevention is different for each person. Dosage also depends on the form someone is taking.

Generally speaking the range of standardized extract (90-95% curcumin) is 250 to 500 mg, taken 3 times a day. As always, it’s best to work with someone knowledgeable in herbal medicine if you have any doubts about what will work best for you.


Jagetia GC, Aggarwal BB, “‘Spicing up’ of the immune system by curcumin”, J Clin Immunol. 2007 Jan;27(1):19-35

Mahady GB, Pendland SL, Yun G, Lu ZZ, “Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and curcumin inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a group 1 carcinogen.” Anticancer Res. 2002 Nov-Dec;22(6C):4179-81

Hui-na ZHANG, Chun-xiao YU, Peng-ju ZHANG, Wei-wen CHEN, An-li JIANG, Feng KONG, Jing-ti DENG, Jian-ye ZHANG, Charles YF YOUNG, “Curcumin downregulates homeobox gene NKX3.1 in prostate cancer cell LNCaP1

Mesa, M. D., et al. Oral administration of a turmeric extract inhibits erythrocyte and liver microsome membrane oxidation in rabbits fed with an atherogenic diet. Nutrition. 19(9):800-804, 2003.

Hyperhealth Pro Database, In-Tele-Health, Hansville, WA, 2008.

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