~ Curcumin's Role in Cancer Fight Probed

Press Association, 08-09-05

Scientists are hoping to discover how an ingredient used in curries has anti-cancer properties.

Cancer researchers at Swansea University's School of Medicine and the city's Morriston Hospital have found that a constituent of turmeric, used to add flavour to meals, can help to block a cancer-promoting protein.

Researchers from the school's Institute of Life Science investigated curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, for its ability to specifically block the protein NF-kappaB.

A group led by Professor John Baxter and Dr Gareth Jenkins obtained "promising data" showing that in cultured cancer cells, curcumin actively inhibits the activity of the NF-kappaB protein.

The group had found that increased NF-kappaB activity is linked to several cancers of the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract.

Work is being extended to assess the effect of curcumin supplementation on NF-kappaB activity in patients.

If the pilot study in patients shows similar results to the study using cultured cancer cells, it will indicate that curcumin supplementation may have beneficial anti-cancer effects in patients.

Prof Baxter said: "We have been trying to identify potential ways to suppress NF-kappaB activity and, ultimately, to block GI tract cancer development. The curcumin discovery is a shot in the arm for our research."

The experimental cost of the project has been funded by Morriston Hospital's Research and Development Office.

Scientists across the world have long suspected that some elements of Indian food may act as anti-cancer agents.
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