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Curry, Curcumin, Berries—Anti-Cancer and Anti-Inflammatory

Curry, Curcumin, Berries—Anti-Cancer and Anti-Inflammatory.

Abstracted from Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. Weekly CancerDecisions.com Newsletter #57 10/16/02 and Newsletter #58 10/23/02
Curry in a Hurry
The big news at this month's American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) meeting concerned the surprising health benefits of curry. Yes, curry. Scientists found that curcumin, which gives the spice turmeric its yellow color, can protect the skin during radiation therapy. Turmeric is a major ingredient in Indian curry powder.
Scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center, New York, found that curcumin protects the skin from the blisters and burns that frequently occur during radiation treatment. They studied 200 mice given three different doses of curcumin for seven days. On the fifth day, the animals were given a dose of radiation. Twenty days later, the scientists assessed their skin damage.  
Dr. Paul Okunieff, head of radiation oncology at the university's prestigious Wilmot Cancer Center, said, "This is significant because skin damage is a real problem for patients undergoing radiation to treat their tumors. If a non-toxic, natural substance can help prevent this damage and enhance the effectiveness of our radiation, that's a winning situation." He further suggested that while clinical trials are needed, today's patients could protect themselves by eating curries before, during and after their radiation treatment.  
It is a brave scientist who is willing, these days, to extrapolate from his research and make clear recommendations to the general public. Bravo, Dr. Okunieff!  
Curcumin has other health benefits as well. It contains powerful antioxidants and is a natural anti-inflammatory compound. It suppresses new blood vessel growth within tumors, a process called anti-angiogenesis. It is also inexpensive. Whether you are concerned about cancer or simply want to improve your overall health, I recommend adding curry powder and plain turmeric to your spice rack and incorporating them into dishes whenever feasible. You can also buy curcumin in capsule form at health food stores.  
Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
References
Okunieff P et al. Protective effect of curcumin on radiation induced skin damage involves down-regulation of chemokine gene expression. IJROBP 2002;54:79.
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