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Curcumin blocks nicotine effect on head and neck cancer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Patients with head and neck cancer who continue to smoke could benefit from curcumin, the ingredient found in the spice turmeric. For the study, scientists pre-treated cancer cells in vitro with curcumin, and then exposed the cells to nicotine, finding that the curry powder spice blocked the cancer activating properties of the cells.

The findings were presented at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO in San Diego. Curcumin has recently been studied for multiple its health benefits. Research shows that curcumin in turmeric has powerful disease fighting properties.

Curcumin from turmeric was studied on neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) growths. Nicotine replacement therapy is often used by patients, who develop head and neck cancer, and many unfortunately continue to smoke. Curcumin could offer a safe solution to prevent head and neck cancer recurrence.

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The news that it can block the nicotine effect on existing cancer cells adds to the list of the health benefits of curcumin. There is also a high rate of recurrence.

Several other benefits recently found from curcumin this year include clearing amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease, in combination with Vitamin D; reduce breast cancer risk in women, who have received hormone replacement therapy and treating inflammatory bowel disease. Curcumin found in turmeric also has infection fighting properties.

Nicotine is not cancer causing in itself, but it has been shown to encourage cancer cell growth. The scientists have found a safe bioactive food compound from curcumin that can block the effect of nicotine on cancer cells. We can now add another health benefit from curcumin, now found to block the cancer activating effect of nicotine in cases of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

Source: American Academy of Otolaryngology