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At this time, there isn't enough evidence to recommend curcumin for preventing or treating cancer, but research is ongoing.
Curcumin, a substance found in the spice turmeric, has long been used in Asian medicine to treat a variety of maladies. Now some research suggests that curcumin may help prevent or treat cancer.
Curcumin is thought to have antioxidant properties, which means it may decrease swelling and inflammation. It's being explored as a cancer treatment in part because inflammation appears to play a role in cancer.
Laboratory and animal research suggests that curcumin may prevent cancer, slow the spread of cancer, make chemotherapy more effective and protect healthy cells from damage by radiation therapy. Curcumin is being studied for use in many types of cancer.
Studies of curcumin in people are still in the early stages. Clinical trials are underway to investigate curcumin as a way to prevent cancer in people with precancerous conditions, as a cancer treatment, and as a remedy for signs and symptoms caused by cancer treatments.
Research is ongoing, and there isn't enough evidence to recommend curcumin at this time. As always, talk with your doctor before using any herbal supplement. It's unclear how curcumin may interact with medications.
Timothy J. Moynihan, M.D.
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