Curcumin, found in the Indian spice turmeric, may be able to slow down and stop the blood cancer multiple myeloma, suggest researchers, confirming previous health effects linked to the spice.
Researchers at the University of Texas in Houston report on a laboratory study showing that curcumin could stop cancer cells with multiple myeloma from replicating and kill off the remaining cancerous cells.
Previous research has shown that curcumin, which gives turmeric, and the curries to which it is added, its yellow color, may fight other diseases such as multiple sclerosis. It is also being developed currently as a treatment for burns caused by radiation therapy.
The researchers added curcumin to a sample of human cells with multiple myeloma (MM), and found that it down-regulated the nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-kappaB). The scientists had found NF-kappaB to be present in all MM cells and believe it to be the activator of the cancer.
The curcumin seemed to de-activate NF-kappaB and stop further activity.
The researchers report in a February issue of Blood that the results suggest a possible treatment for MM patients. Also curcumin is "an agent known to have very little or no toxicity in humans", according to the team.
Scientists believe that curcumin may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which could explain its health benefits.