Cancer: Two spices when combined could be ‘potential cancer preventive agents’

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Turmeric and black pepper both have important anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and disease-fighting properties. These could be key ingredients when trying to follow a healthy diet and prevent the risk of developing cancer. Both spices contain compounds that have been proven effective in treating various types of cancer. The compounds have been already used in combination with chemotherapy.

Turmeric, for instance, contains an essential compound called “curcumin”.

This ingredient is known for its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

While black pepper is made of a bioactive compound called “piperine”.

Aside from being an anti-inflammatory substance, it has proven effective in treating nausea, indigestion, and headache.

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When used on its own, curcumin may not be enough to treat ailments and improve general health.

Its therapeutic efficacy can be limited in the human body, which cannot absorb it well.

That’s when piperine from black pepper comes in.

The spice is, as a matter of fact, able to boost the absorption of curcumin.

A review on clinical trials by The University of Texas suggested that combining black pepper and turmeric enhances curcumin absorption.

“Concomitant administration of 20 mg of piperine with curcumin, produced much higher concentrations within 30 min to 1 h after drug treatment,” researchers said.

“Piperine increased the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000%.”

As a result, combining the two spices may increase their health benefits, especially when it comes to cancer prevention and treatment.

Test-tube trials at The University of Texas indicated that curcumin, in particular, is able to decrease the growth, development, and spread of a tumour at the molecular level.

If well absorbed, the compound could also favour the death of cancerous cells.

Several studies have pointed out that piperine from black pepper plays an important role too in the death of some cancer cells.

It’s also shown to decrease the risk of tumour formation, as it inhibits the growth of cancerous cells.

The Cancer Centre at the University of Michigan, who have tried targeting breast stem cells with curcumin and piperine found that “these compounds could be potential cancer preventive agents”.

Curcumin and piperine used both separately and in combination, inhibited the self-renewal process of breast stem cells, which cause breast cancer.

“Strategies aimed at reducing stem cell number and inhibiting their self-renewal could be an effective approach in cancer prevention,” the authors said.

They concluded that if proven safe and efficacious, these compounds could become “a non-toxic long-term cancer risk reduction strategy”.

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