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 appears to protect the skin by quenching free radicals and reducing inflammation through nuclear factor-KB inhibition. Curcumin treatment also reduces wound-healing time, improves collagen deposition and increased fibroblast and vascular density in wounds thereby enhancing both normal and impaired wound-healing. It is being explored as a cancer treatment in part because inflammation appears to play a role in cancer.
Curcumin can kill a wide variety of tumor cell types through diverse mechanisms. Because of numerous mechanisms of cell death employed by curcumin, it is possible that cells may not develop resistance to curcumin-induced cell death. Furthermore, its ability to kill tumor cells and not normal cells makes curcumin an attractive candidate for drug development. Although numerous animal studies and clinical trials have been done, additional studies are needed to gain the full benefit from curcumin.