Health Discoveries in Breast Cancer

Compounds from turmeric and pepper show promise as breast cancer treatment

January 4, 2010
The growth of stem cells in breast cancer, which fuel a tumor's growth, may be inhibited by doses of compounds found in the spices turmeric and pepper, cancer researchers at the University of Michigan have reported.

The spice compounds, in solutions equivalent to 20 times the potency usually consumed in food, were applied to cell cultures. The compounds inhibited the growth of cancer-initiating stem cells, but had no effect on healthy cell development, the researchers found.

"This shows that these compounds are not toxic to normal breast tissue," said Dr. Madhuri Kakarala of the university's medical school.

While other studies have considered the spices as a cancer treatment, the Michigan study – published online in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment – is the first that is targeting the stem cells with these compounds. A clinical trial to determine what dosage can be tolerated in people is expected to start later this year.

"Researchers are trying very hard to find gentler treatments for cancer patients," said Dr. Iuliana Shapira, a breast cancer expert at the Monter Cancer Center in Lake Success, New York, which is part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System. "I think we will see better targeting of treatments and tailored therapies in the next 10 years."ADNFCR-2730-ID-19538813-ADNFCR
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