Active compounds in turmeric, onion help fight colon cancer

| | Updated on: Jan 23, 2017
image caption

Curcumin, quercetin reduce the size and number of pre-cancer growth, says study

The typical Indian curries and south Indian Sambar are not just tasty but also have medicinal benefits. The ingredients they are made of can potentially prevent cancers, especially colon cancer, independent research studies have revealed.

The active ingredient identified is curcumin in turmeric, which is most common and widely used in preparations of curries in the country. However, the research studies are preliminary in nature.

Researchers at the Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Manipal University concluded that the ingredients in Sambar prevents the development of dimethyl hydrazine-induced colon cancer in a pre-clinical study, which was published in Pharmacognosy Magazine in July 2016.

Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the US, whereas in India the incidence is the lowest. Almost 70 per cent of the incidence is linked to diet, said the research team consisting of V Ganga Prasad, Albi Francis, K Nandakumar et al.

Global studies

Global research studies in the past decade have also thrown up positive results on the impact of curcumin in preventing colon and breast cancers. In a clinical trial, researchers in the US have shown that people who eat large amounts of curries with ingredients like turmeric and an antioxidant found in Onions called quercetin have beneficial effects.

The study, published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology evaluated the use of curry as a potential colon cancer drug in five people with a rare genetic condition that causes the growth of precancerous polyps in the intestines.

Trial showed food chemicals reduced the size and number of pre-cancerous growths in the intestinal tract. If left untreated, such growths commonly lead to colon cancer.

The condition, called Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, is usually inherited the research report said.

If the colon is not surgically removed, there is a 100 per cent chance some of the polyps will develop into cancer, usually by age 40. All participants in this study had had their colons removed, but still had remnants of their intestines. Internal exams were done before the start of treatment to record the baseline number and size of polyps present.

Each of the patients then received 480 milligrams of curcumin and 20 milligrams of quercetin three times a day for six months.

The results showed that treatment with the curry and onion compounds reduced the average number of polyps by 60 per cent and decreased their size by 50 per cent. Quercetin, a flavonoid found in onions, green tea and red wine, inhibits the growth of cancer cells in humans and rats. In another 2016 study published in the Journal of Cancer , researchers from the University of Saint-Louis, US, demonstrated the potent effect of a combination of turmeric and Silymarin (two antioxidant compounds) in fighting colon cancer.

Silymarin is an active ingredient of milk thistle, a flowering plant that has been used to treat liver disease.

Uthayashanker Ezekiel of the Saint Louis University said: “The combination of phytochemicals inhibited colon cancer cells from multiplying and spreading.”

Interestingly, there is a growing body of scientific literature from across the world, including studies from the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition, which highlight properties such as anti-inflammation, antioxidant and anti-tumour attributed to curcumin.

Published on January 12, 2018

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like

Recommended for you