Can turmeric really help cure cancer?

Buttriss: ‘Bigger, high quality trials are needed and now underway’

The yellow spice turmeric, a major ingredient in curry powder, has been heralded as a solution to cancer. But does the evidence stack up?

This is explored in a paper in June’s Nutrition Bulletin. Turmeric has been widely used as an ingredient in foods and medications in south Asia for centuries, and these days it’s a common food ingredient globally as the popularity of curries has grown.

Studies in rodents and cell cultures have investigated the potential health effects – notably, anti-cancer effects – of bioactive components in turmeric, and in particular curcumin.

Only a few trials in humans

There have only been a few trials in humans, mainly non-randomised, which have used very high doses of curcumin – equating to a turmeric intake of around 100g/day.

The authors conclude that for an ingredient that has received considerable interest from the public, media and scientific community, the lack of randomised placebo-controlled trials is striking.

Some studies to date are promising, but bigger, high quality trials are needed and now underway.

Regardless of headlines, no single food or ingredient is going to transform a nation’s cancer risk, even when there is some credible evidence of benefits.

  • Professor Judy Buttriss is director general of the British Nutrition Foundation

Please click here to sign-up for our free monthly Food Ingredients, Health & Nutrition (FIHN) newsletter.

Related News

Professor Buttriss: ‘The challenge has been to find substitutes that provide the same functionality in food production’

Sat fat replacement research ramps up

Chips are a starchy type of food prone to forming the carcinogen acrylamide

Acrylamide limits considered for potato, cereal and bakery goods

Professor Buttriss: ‘Is mainstream adoption supported by the evidence?’

Are gluten-free diets harmful for non-coeliacs?

Professor Buttriss: ‘Purchases of fruit and vegetables have continued to decline’

Family Food survey reveals fruit and veg decline

Professor Buttriss: ‘Resistant starch is naturally present in some foods’

Evidence for benefits of resistant starch is growing

Professor Buttriss: ‘Sugar intakes are deemed too high’

Sugar reduction aims thwarted by sweetener confusion

Professor Buttriss: ‘The evidence base has grown’

Can gut bugs promote good health?

Protein new to the local food chain has the potential to cause allergies: Buttriss

New protein sources – new allergens?

Comments (1)

David Smith - 31 May 2017 | 01:48

unequal opportunity for non-pharmaceuticals

Cancer treatment is controlled by the pharmaceutical companies as the regimens in the guidelines are stringent and have to be followed. Any doctor prescribing non-approved treatment risks losing his doctor's licence. How then can curcumin be the subject of extensive clinical trials?

31-May-2017 at 13:48 GMT

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.