Can a Teaspoon of Turmeric a Day Prevent Cancer?
A broad body of research links turmeric to a host of health benefits. Yet many of these investigations have explored the effects of taking supplements rather than those of including the spice in the diet. Now, an exciting new study finds that adding a teaspoon of turmeric to the diet every day may help prevent cancer.
Before turmeric exploded on the world stage as a wellness-enhancing agent, it was relegated to the kitchen cabinet. A popular spice in India, it is one of the primary components of curry powder. In recent decades, scientists have found curcumin, the constituent of turmeric that imparts the characteristic yellow color, has value for dementia, depression, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cancer and more.
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According to Michael Mosley of the BBC’s Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, much of the research on turmeric and curcumin has involved testing the effects of the supplements on animals; therefore, he decided to test the effects of adding the spice to the daily diet of humans. He enlisted the help of leading researchers in England and recruited 100 volunteers, which were divided into three groups. One group was asked to include a teaspoon of turmeric in the diet every day for six weeks. Another group was required to take a daily supplement of the same amount of turmeric, and a third group was given a placebo. The group that consumed it in the diet added it to their food in different ways such as mixing it in yogurt or warm milk.
The Novel Test
To evaluate the effects of the turmeric, Mosley used a novel test developed at University College, London, by Professor Martin Widschwendter and his team. In previous studies, these scientists found the DNA of breast cancer cells undergo a change long before they become cancerous. The specific alteration is DNA methylation, which acts as a dimmer switch to heighten or lessen gene activity. This change affects the risk of developing the disease. If it is detected soon enough, it can potentially be reversed, thereby preventing the cells from turning into cancer.
Turmeric Has Positive Effect on Genes That Cause Certain Diseases
Mosley asked Professor Widschwendter to measure the DNA methylation pattern of the volunteers at the beginning and conclusion of the experiment to determine the effects of ingesting turmeric. While no changes were noted in the placebo group or in the group that took the supplement, substantial changes were seen in the group that mixed turmeric in their food. The gene that showed the largest change is one that has been associated with cancer, asthma, depression and eczema. Widschwendter called the results exciting.
Why didn’t the supplements produce the same effect? Experts associated with the study speculated that ingesting the spice with nutrients from other foods or cooking with it enhanced its absorption. In an interview with Live in the Now, President of ConsumerLab.com Todd Cooperman M.D. verified the researchers’ postulation. “When including turmeric in the diet, it’s best to eat it with a decent amount of fats or oils. This will greatly increase the absorption of the curcuminoids in the turmeric, enhancing any potential health benefits,” he said.
It’s interesting to note that consuming a large quantity of the spice wasn’t required to change the genes. The amount of turmeric that produced the benefit was a mere teaspoon a day, however, in no way does this research negate the thousands of studies that have found links between taking the supplement and wellness advantages. Instead, it shows that including turmeric in the diet is especially beneficial. Consuming a teaspoon of turmeric every day is not only a difficult task, it still wouldn’t provide the therapeutic amounts shown to be effective for brain health and inflammation of the joints.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.