Hot Spices Take on Breast Cancer

Emerging evidence links spices’turmeric, in particular?with cancer protection. A new laboratory study from the Department of Internal Medicine and Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Michigan is one of the first to find that turmeric (the spice found in curry) and black pepper compounds might work to fight breast cancer by hampering the growth of stem cells. Scientists hypothesize that stem cells might be the force behind the growth in a tumor. The researchers applied solutions of the turmeric polyphenol, curcumin, and the black pepper polyphenol, piperine, on breast cells, and observed a decrease in the number of stem cells with no effect on normal cells. It appeared that the piperine enhanced the effects of curcumin. The researchers concluded that because the study was preliminary, it did not provide sufficient evidence to merit the use of turmeric or black pepper supplements at this time.

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, November 2009

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