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Turmeric Compound Found Promising to Treat Colon Cancer


Uthayshanker Ezekiel, Ph.D. transfers proteins from gel to membrane using a western blot assembly. Photo by Ellen Hutti (SLU)

Another study has brought the miracle root turmeric into limelight as a means to prepare a compound to prevent and treat colon cancer to some extent.

Researchers from Saint Louis University in Missouri, US have studied a line of colon cancer cells in a laboratory model and found that treating the cells initially with curcumin and then with silymarin will be more effective in fighting cancer than treating the cells with either phytochemical alone, said Uthayashanker Ezekiel, corresponding author and associate professor of biomedical laboratory science.

Colon cancer is usually caused by lifestyle factors, such as sedentry lifestyle and diet. Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric and silymarin is a component of milk thistle, which has been used to treat even liver disease.

“Phytochemicals may offer alternate therapeutic approaches to cancer treatments and avoid toxicity problems and side effects that chemotherapy can cause,” said Ezekiel.

While their research is preliminary, the scientists see promise in using the phytochemicals to help prevent colon cancer, which frequently is caused by lifestyle factors such as diet. Their next study would see how the curcumin and silymarin impact the actions of molecules, such as genetic transcription and expression, that cause cells to change, Ezekiel said. Then the compounds would be studied in an animal model, then in humans.

Curcurmin is contained in turmeric, a plant used by the Indian Ayurvedic medicine and in Chinese medicine to make traditional medicines for thousands of years.

The findings were published in the June 23 issue of the Journal of Cancer.

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