September 13, 2011

1 Min Read
Curcumin Suppresses Head, Neck Cancer Growth

LOS ANGELESCurcumin, a compound found the popular Indian spice turmeric, showed an anti-tumor effect and was able suppress a cell signaling pathway that causes the growth of head and neck cancer, according to a new study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Researchers at UCLAs Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center found curcumin binds to and prevents an enzyme known as IKK, an inhibitor of kappa kinase, from activating a transcription factor called nuclear factor kappa (NF), which promotes cancer growth.

For the study, 21 patients with head and neck cancers gave samples of their saliva before and after chewing two curcumin tablets totaling 1,000 milligrams. After one hour, another sample of saliva was taken and proteins were extracted and IKK kinase activity measured. Thirteen subjects with tooth decay and five healthy subjects were used as controls.

Eating the curcumin put it in contact not just with the cancer but also with the saliva, and the study found it reduced the level of cancer enhancing cytokines. The pro-inflammatory cytokines in the saliva that help feed the cancer were reduced in the patients that had chewed the curcumin, and the cell signaling pathway driving cancer growth was inhibited.

The curcumin had a significant inhibitory effect, blocking two different drivers of head and neck cancer growth," they said. This study shows curcumin can work in the mouths of patients with head and neck malignancies and reduce activities that promote cancer growth," the researchers said. And it not only affected the cancer by inhibiting a critical cell signaling pathway, it also affected the saliva itself by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines within the saliva."

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