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Curcumin Could Reduce Hormone Therapy Breast Cancer Risk

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Curcumin and breast cancer

A new study shows that women at risk for breast cancer following postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy may find protection from curcumin, found in turmeric root. The results show that curcumin, a popular Asian spice, might be considered as a dietary means to protect from breast cancer for women exposed to estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone) used as hormone replacement therapy following menopause.

Researchers from University of Missouri found that curcumin delayed and reduced the incidence of hormone related tumors in mouse studies. Curcumin blocked the production of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) known to promote and support hormone related tumors and other types of cancer. Curcumin derived from turmeric also prevented changes in breast tissue associated with the hormone progestin and considered abnormal.

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Salman Hyder, professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center says, "Approximately 6 million women in the United States use hormone replacement therapy to treat the symptoms of menopause. This exposure to progestin will predispose a large number of post-menopausal women to future development of breast cancer. The results of our study show that women could potentially take curcumin to protect themselves from developing progestin-accelerated tumors."

Given the high numbers of women who take hormone replacement therapy, a simple dietary intervention using curcumin should be tested further to find the protective benefits for reducing breast cancer risk associated with taking estrogen and progestin, as suggested by the study authors. Previous studies suggest curcumin from turmeric may protect against a variety of cancers. (1)

The new findings show promise that curcumin from turmeric might reduce breast cancer risk for women who opt to use hormone replacement therapy to treat menopause symptoms. The study showing that curcumin delayed the onset of hormone related tumors, and prevented abnormal changes in breast tissue in mice, will be published in the journal Menopause, and is titled "Curcumin delays development of MPA-accelerated DMBA-induced mammary tumors."

News Bureau, University of Missouri
(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18462866