Can Turmeric Help Fight Cancer?
Known as ‘India gold’ turmeric has long been prized for its health giving properties. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric was used to help treat stomach upsets, keep the liver healthy and purify breast milk. I have known women who have eaten turmeric regularly while nursing and their breast milk has taken on a golden pigment.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric and gives the spice its distinctive colour. It’s also the focus of modern research:
‘Nobody has found a cancer, at least in the test tube, that curcumin cannot stop,’ said Professor Bharat Aggarwal when I interviewed him for my book Mum’s Not Having Chemo .
To date, the wonder spice has proved its potential against colorectal, pancreatic, breast and prostate cancers, lung cancer and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma .
Professor Aggarwal works at the revered MD Anderson Cancer Centre where he has treated over 1000 cancer patients. While curcumin won’t work for everyone, his research shows that turmeric is capable of both preventing and treating cancer safely .
So how much should you take? Human clinical trails show zero toxicity when administered at doses up to 10g a day and, for cancer patients, Aggarwal recommends 8g curcumin a day spread out over 4 doses.
Of course its difficult to estimate how much curcumin is in each knobbly root of turmeric – and if you are dealing with a serious illness you want to ensure you are under expert supervision.
But for those interested in reducing their risk of disease, you can’t go wrong adding more turmeric to your diet; a 2009 paper suggested it can even block brain tumour formation  and another study has shown that curcumin could take on cancer stem cells which are the root cause of malignancy .
So spice up your next latte with a golden spoonful, make your own curry or whip up an Honestly Healthy turmeric omelette