The Anticancer Potential of Foods and Spices: Tumeric

Reviewed by: D. Brown

Reference: Mukundan MA, Chacko MC, et al: Effect of tumeric and curcumin on BP-DNA adducts. Carcinogenesis 14: 493-6, 1993.

Summary: Many plant constituents including tumeric appear to be antimutagens and antioxidants. The modulatory effect of tumeric and curcumin (the oleoresin of tumeric) on the levels benzo[a]pyrene induced DNA,adducts in livers of rats was studied. Tumeric when fed at 0.1, 0.5, and 3% and curcumin at 0.03% of the diet for 4 weeks significantly reduced the levels of BP-DNA adducts formed within24 hour following a single intraperitoneal injection of benzo[a]pyrene. The significance in terms of potential anficarcinogenic effect of tumeric is discussed. The results strengthen the role of tumeric as an dietary anticancer agent.

Comments/Opinions: Most of our focus regarding the anticancer potential of plants has focused on bioflavonoids and their powerful antioxidant activity. It is interesting to note the significant number of studies that are also being published looking at spices and other active constituents of plants as cancer preventive due to their ability to inhibit and modulate the early stages of cancer formation. Common food constituents like tumeric, garlic,and the polyphenols (i.e., epigallocatechin) found in green or black tea, have all been shown to prevent carter formation in animal models. These studies have effectively complemented human epidemiological studies indicating the role these foods and spices have played in cancer prevention.

The above study, performed in India, indicate that human intake of tumeric at levels of 0.1-0.5% of the diet present an anticancer potential. This equals approximately 500 mg. in a 50 kg. individual. Estimates of tumeric intake in India range form 200 to 600 mg. daily. Incorporating higher intake of tumeric along with garlic, green tea other food sources of flavonoids may prove the answer in the prevention and reduction of several cancers.

Articles related to garlic and polyhenols recommended for review include Cancer Letters 68:231-6,1993 and British J Cancer 67:424-9,1993.

Natural Product Research Consultants, Inc.

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By D. Brown

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