Intriguing test shows curcumin does have anti-cancer effect

Intriguing test shows curcumin does have anti-cancer effect

The BBC TV Programme ‘Trust me – I’m a Doctor’ decided to explore the world of Turmeric and curcumin.

Starting from a point of cynicism, they gave three groups of people either a placebo, or fresh turmeric to use in their food, or a supplement.

They then approached Prof Martin Widschwendter at University College, London, who is looking at methylation, known to be the precursor to illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Methylation is at the core of the Science of Epigenetics, which views cancer as a metabolic, not genetic, disease. Methylation causes changes in histones around the outside (epi) of the DNA (genetics). If histones move and/or build up too much they can block gene expression with disastrous results. Methylation has been uplifted in a number of illnesses from cancer to Alzheimer’s.

So this is essentially research about prevention.

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The group taking the placebo showed no benefit. But the group using turmeric as a meal additive in their cooking showed a significant reduction in methylation. This was described as a real surprise. The fats and condiments such as black pepper used in cooking helped take the curcumin into the blood stream where it reduced damaging methylation.

Chris Woollams, founder of CANCERactive and former Oxford University Biochemist commented, “Expert opinion was that the placebo producing no effect was not surprising, but the supplement having no effect was. This highlights the difference with cooking. It is well known that the Turmeric and curcumin and large molecules and hard to absorb. The addition of oil or fat, and black pepper make absorption easier. Black pepper contains piperine which makes the turmeric more effective. So cook with it or, as recommended by the American Cancer Society, take your curcumin or turmeric supplements with some extra virgin olive oil and black pepper. Clearly, there is an exciting prevention benefit”.

Indeed, Widschwender and his team found ‘quite substantial changes’ to one particular gene, known to be linked with not just cancer, but allergies (asthma and eczema) and depression. He described it as a ‘striking finding’.

Go to: Curcumin and cancer - the facts

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