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02/01/2010

Turmeric and black pepper prevent breast cancer

(NaturalNews) Seasoning food with turmeric and black pepper can do more than just spice up a meal. Researchers at the University of Michigan (U-M) Comprehensive Cancer Center have found that the compounds curcumin, which is derived from turmeric, and piperine, derived from black pepper, could play an important role in preventing and even treating breast cancer.

Previous research has already provided evidence that curcumin and piperine may be potential cancer treatments. However, the new U-M study, just published online in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, is the first to suggest exactly how these natural spice compounds could prevent cancer. The research shows curcumin and piperine target stem cells (unspecialized cells that can give rise to any type of cell in an organ). This is of major significance because cancer stem cells comprise the small number of cells inside a tumor that fuel the growth of malignancies.

Current chemotherapy agents are useless against these cells -- that's why cancer can recur and spread despite rounds of heavy duty, toxic chemo. But if cancer stem cells could be eliminated and/or their growth shut down, cancer should be controlled.

"If we can limit the number of stem cells, we can limit the number of cells with potential to form tumors," lead author Madhuri Kakarala, M.D., Ph.D., a clinical lecturer in internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and a research investigator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, said in a statement to the media. And the new study shows curcumin and piperine work along these lines. The spice derivatives are able to do what chemo can't -- they limit the self-renewal of stem cells.

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