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Major Component In Turmeric Spice Enhances Effect Of Chemo Drug For Head, Neck Cancers

Posted Oct 19 2010 5:40pm

Curcumin, the major component in the spice turmeric, when combined with the chemotherapy drug Cisplatin, enhances the chemotherapy’s suppression of head and neck cancer cell growth, researchers with UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center have found.

A naturally occurring spice widely used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, Turmeric has long been known to have medicinal properties, attributed to its anti-inflammatory effects. Previous research has shown it can suppress the growth of certain cancers, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Marilene Wang, a UCLA professor of head and neck surgery and a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher.

“Head and neck cancers, particularly cases diagnosed in a later stage, are terrible cancers that often require very radical surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation,” Wang said. “They often don’t present until late, and the structures in the head and neck are so vital that our treatments often cause disfigurement and severe loss of function. So using non-toxic curcumin as a treatment was a very appealing idea.”

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