The active component curcumin in the spice turmeric is shown to prevent and retard cancer in hundreds of studies and research reports. Many of the methods by which carcinogenesis (attack of carcinogens on the DNA and cellular structure) progresses has been shown to be retarded or short circuited by turmeric. A powerful carcinogenic agent TPA (tissue polypeptide antigen) is known to cause cancer by increasing the production of a substance in the body called protein kinase. Turmeric appears to suppress the production of protein kinase. Turmeric is also shown to lower the levels of oncogen which is a cancer causing gene called c-jun. A team of scientists not only demonstrated these suppressive effects but caused a 99% inhibition of TPA induced tumors on rodents.
It is obvious that turmeric is shutting of some of the cancer causing pathways and probably blocking of malignant tumors at the initiation, promotion and progression stage itself. Turmeric is capable of slowing or preventing genetic mutation in cells that are risk factors for cancer. Mutation is a genetic change in the DNA - Deoxyribonucleic acid of a cell that gets passed on to future generations of the cells in the process of cell division. Although not all DNA mutations are carcinogenic cancer has always followed DNA mutation.
Couple of important studies has dramatically indicated that this cancer causing DNA mutation pathway can be closed by turmeric. In one study mutagenic changes in the bone marrow of mice were significantly decreased by administration of turmeric extract. Another study was dramatic because it was done on people. Normally such studies are never done on people as it is illegal and unethical to inject people with carcinogenic agents as in the case of animals used for laboratory studies. Smokers are injecting themselves with wide range of carcinogenic agents. A study was done on 100 smokers in India who refused to quit against all warnings. They were given turmeric extract pill for 30 days (Though diet in India regularly contains turmeric that is not sufficient). During this period there was a startling 40% reduction in the urinary extraction of tobacco related mutagens - a byproduct of cell/DNA mutation. Clearly turmeric -curcumin detoxified enough carcinogens in the lungs to cause such a reduction of mutation process.
Turmeric tops the short list of really powerful cancer preventive agents. Many government funded agencies like Nation Cancer Institute, Medline Plus and American Cancer Institute have recognized turmeric as one of the best means of prevention against cancer.