What if fighting cancer came down to a single spice? According to scientists, this might be the case. Turmeric, also known as Curcuma longa, is one of the most honored spices in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s all because of curcumin, the primary active compound of turmeric.
Curcumin also gives the spice its bright yellow shade.1 The color is so vibrant that it can stain bowls and spoons! But after learning about how it can combat cancer, those yellow stains might not seem so bad after all.
How Does Turmeric Fight Cancer?
Turmeric owes its talents to curcumin. This compound is a potent antimicrobial, but when it comes to cancer, it definitely steals the show.2
1. Conquers Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is a harmful process caused by free radicals. It damages the DNA, forcing cells to change in a way that triggers cancer growth.3 But as an antioxidant, curcumin has the ability to find and kill those free radicals.4 As for molecular pathways that lead to oxidative stress? Curcumin puts an end to those, too.5
2. Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is right up there with oxidative stress. Curcumin, however, is a powerful regulator of pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines. At the same time, it stimulates immune cells like macrophages and monocytes. This also blocks off cytokines, helping the body get a handle on inflammation.6
3. Prevents Carcinogenesis
Carcinogenesis takes place when healthy cells turn into cancer. Thankfully, curcumin can stop it in its tracks! It prevents carcinogenesis by modifying cellular pathways needed for carcinogenesis to happen. In turn, cells are left to be healthy and normal.7
4. Suppresses Tumor-Inducing Enzymes
In the body, enzymes are the catalysts behind every chemical reaction. This includes the formation and growth of tumors, but not when curcumin is in town. Specifically, it inhibits lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase, two enzymes that facilitate tumor progression.8
5. Inhibits Angiogenesis
Want to destroy cancer cells? Cut off their blood supply! Angiogenesis, or the process of new blood vessels forming from pre-existing ones, fuels cancer cells. But according to a 2013 animal study in BioMed Research International, curcumin may prevent it from happening.9
How To Take Turmeric For Cancer Protection
Turmeric might be toxic for cancer cells, but it won’t harm normal ones.10 This is exactly what makes turmeric so amazing. To reap the benefits, check out these 5 ways to eat this spice.
Turmeric is a popular ingredient for anti-inflammatory smoothies. If you love a zesty kick, pair it with ginger and lemon. Combine turmeric with banana, pineapple, and blueberries to sweeten things up.
Love tea, but don’t want caffeine? Brew yourself a cup of warm turmeric tea. It works well with honey, lemon, cinnamon, and cardamom.
3. Golden Milk
This trendy beverage has quickly taken over sugary lattes. In a pot over medium heat, combine 1 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon honey, ½ teaspoon turmeric, and 1 teaspoon ground ginger. Once blended, sip and enjoy.
4. Ice Pops
Cold golden milk and turmeric smoothies can be frozen into ice pops. Save it for a summery day, or whenever you want a sweet treat. You can even add fresh fruit to the molds.
5. Cooked Meals
From pasta to omelets, almost every meal could use a dash of turmeric powder. Use it to spice up roasted veggies or salmon. Add to soup for a warming effect.
|↑1, ↑2, ↑4, ↑6||Jurenka, Julie S. “Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research.” Alternative medicine review 14, no. 2 (2009).|
|↑3||Chikara, Shireen, Lokesh Dalasanur Nagaprashantha, Jyotsana Singhal, David Horne, Sanjay Awasthi, and Sharad S. Singhal. “Oxidative stress and dietary phytochemicals: Role in cancer chemoprevention and treatment.” Cancer Letters (2017).|
|↑5||Chikara, Shireen, Lokesh Dalasanur Nagaprashantha, Jyotsana Singhal, David Horne, Sanjay Awasthi, and Sharad S. Singhal. “Oxidative stress and dietary phytochemicals: Role in cancer chemoprevention and treatment.” Cancer Letters (2017).|
|↑7, ↑10||Banik, Urmila, Subramani Parasuraman, Arun Kumar Adhikary, and Nor Hayati Othman. “Curcumin: the spicy modulator of breast carcinogenesis.” Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research 36, no. 1 (2017): 98.|
|↑8||Moos, Philip J., Kornelia Edes, James E. Mullally, and Frank A. Fitzpatrick. “Curcumin impairs tumor suppressor p53 function in colon cancer cells.” Carcinogenesis 25, no. 9 (2004): 1611-1617.|
|↑9||Bimonte, Sabrina, Antonio Barbieri, Giuseppe Palma, Antonio Luciano, Domenica Rea, and Claudio Arra. “Curcumin inhibits tumor growth and angiogenesis in an orthotopic mouse model of human pancreatic cancer.” BioMed research international 2013 (2013).|