The compound that makes curry yellow could help fight skin
cancer, U.S. researchers reported.
They said curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, interferes
with melanoma cells.
Tests in laboratory dishes show that curcumin made melanoma
skin cancer cells more likely to self-destruct in a process
known as apoptosis.
The same team has found that curcumin helped stop the spread
of breast cancer tumor cells to the lungs of mice.
Bharat Aggarwal of the Department of Experimental Therapeutics
at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in
Houston and colleagues treated three batches of melanoma
cells, known as cell lines, with curcumin at different doses
and for varying times.
The curcumin suppressed two proteins that tumor cells use
to keep themselves immortal, the researchers write in next
month's issue of the journal Cancer.
"Based on our studies, we conclude the curcumin is a potent
suppressor of cell viability and inducer of apoptosis in
melanoma cell lines," Aggarwal's team wrote.
"Future investigation to determine the effects of curcumin
in animal models of melanoma and clinical trials are planned."
Earlier research has shown that curcumin, which acts as
an antioxidant, can help prevent tumors from forming in
Aggarwal said people who eat plenty of turmeric have lower
rates of some cancers, although the spice itself has not
been shown to reduce cancer risk in people.