Can Turmeric Slow Down Cancer Growth?

Most researchers agree in that there's still too much to explore when it comes to whether or not turmeric can slow down cancer growth.
Can Turmeric Slow Down Cancer Growth?

Last update: 06 June, 2021

Turmeric (better known as one of the main ingredients in curry) is one of the plants that has received the greatest attention in regard to whether it can slow down cancer or not. Now, does it? How’s that possible? Let’s see what scientists have to say below.

Cancer is an incurable disease. Its exact causes remain unknown so it’s a source of huge concern for many people. In light of this, the scientific community is conducting various studies to find out more about the subject, improve the range of treatment options, and discover and offer new alternatives.

The focus of most investigations is on the use of plants, foods, spices, and drinks that might have the potential to aid in the fight against cancer. The key might be in certain compounds and properties.

 

Can turmeric slow down colorectal cancer development?

In a study published back in 2001, investigators carried out a pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic study of the use of turmeric extract in patients with colorectal cancer, and came to the following conclusions:

  • Turmeric extract may aid in the treatment of patients suffering from colon cancer.
  • Researchers administered a dose of 2.2 g of turmeric (equivalent to 180 mg of curcumin) a day for a period of 4 months. The dosage was low and the time period short, so the evidence gathered didn’t allow them to draw any definitive conclusions or make any recommendations.
  • One patient suffered from nausea during the first month while taking the turmeric capsules, but the symptom then spontaneously disappeared.
  • Two patients experienced diarrhea during the course of the treatment, but researchers couldn’t determine the cause, as these two patients didn’t complete the study.
  • The consumption of turmeric was harmless in patients with advanced cancer.
  • Further investigation into this topic is still needed. Researchers must evaluate the potential of a larger dose of turmeric over a longer period of time, using a larger sample size, before they can draw any conclusions as to whether turmeric is useful as an adjuvant treatment for colorectal cancer.

The authors of an investigation published in 2009 explained that the number of clinical studies done on humans was scarce, and as such, it was too early to consider turmeric as an adjunct therapy.

Despite being suggested as a supplement, it’s clear that further study was needed to determine the effectiveness of turmeric in slowing down cancer growth.

A study published in 2016 explained that the lack of clinical studies and reliable evidence means we can’t consider turmeric as a viable treatment option for now. Furthermore, the consumption of turmeric mustn’t interfere with other drugs.

Can turmeric slow down cancer?

A number of investigations (before 2009) indicate that consuming turmeric has no serious side effects. However, we must proceed with caution and always consult a doctor before adding it to the diet.

Despite the data (bibliography at the end of this article), investigators concluded they need more information and further studies. This is because there’s no conclusive evidence on whether turmeric can effectively slow down cancer growth.

Should you include turmeric in your diet?

You may use turmeric as a supplement to a varied and balanced diet. However, it should neither substitute a food( or group of foods) nor medical treatment (if there’s one).

In addition, keep in mind the consumption of turmeric has been counterproductive in some cases such as people with:

  • An iron deficiency
  • Low blood pressure
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Bile duct disorders
  • A breastfeeding baby or pregnant 
  • Low blood glucose levels
  • Certain medical treatments.
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or other digestive ailments

Important note

Specialists at the AECC wrote a document in which they explain the most common myths about cancer in a brief, simple, and concise manner. In it, they explain that no food or natural remedy can neither help prevent nor cure cancer.

“Until now, experts have recognized that there are certain beneficial compounds, such as flavonoids (…) that have antioxidant properties. But there is no scientific evidence to say that you must consume said products on an exclusive basis; rather, they should form part of a varied and balanced diet, complete with plenty of fruit and veg. This is what makes up a healthy diet.”



  • Fava, P. (2018). Los bulos de la cúrcuma: ni ibuprofeno natural ni previene el cáncer. [online] El Español. Available at: https://www.elespanol.com/ciencia/salud/20181030/bulos-curcuma-ibuprofeno-natural-previene-cancer/349215726_0.html [Accessed 23 Oct. 2019].
  • Aratanechemuge, Y., Komiya, T. A. K. A. S. H. I., Moteki, H. I. R. O. Y. U. K. I., Katsuzaki, H. I. R. O. T. A. K. A., Imai, K. U. N. I. O., & Hibasami, H. I. R. O. S. H. I. G. E. (2002). Selective induction of apoptosis by ar-turmerone isolated from turmeric (Curcuma longa L) in two human leukemia cell lines, but not in human stomach cancer cell line. International journal of molecular medicine9(5), 481-484.
  • Chen, X., Pei, L., Zhong, Z., Guo, J., Zhang, Q., & Wang, Y. (2011). Anti-tumor potential of ethanol extract of Curcuma phaeocaulis Valeton against breast cancer cells. Phytomedicine18(14), 1238-1243.
  • Shankar, S., & Srivastava, R. K. (2007). Bax and Bak genes are essential for maximum apoptotic response by curcumin, a polyphenolic compound and cancer chemopreventive agent derived from turmeric, Curcuma longa. Carcinogenesis28(6), 1277-1286.
  • Schaffer, M., Schaffer, P. M., Zidan, J., & Sela, G. B. (2011). Curcuma as a functional food in the control of cancer and inflammation. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care14(6), 588-597.