JUN 25, 2019 11:29 AM PDT

Turmeric Slows Bone Cancer

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Often found in South Asian meals, the spice turmeric comes from a ginger-like plant. Turmeric and its principal ingredient, curcumin, have many beneficial properties beyond culinary use. They possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They have also been shown to build bone and prevent cancers.

"Turmeric has natural anti-inflammatory compounds called curcuminoids, and these curcuminoids have been associated with a positive effect on various diseases," Anya Guy, a Mayo Clinic dietitian, said.

A Washington State University research team has now developed a drug delivery system using curcumin that inhibits the growth of bone cancer cells but encourages the growth of healthy bone. They hope their findings will increase the number of post-operative treatment options for people with osteosarcoma, especially children -- this disease is the second most prevalent cause of cancer death in youth.

Turmeric, public domain image

Researchers want to offer “gentler” post-surgery treatment options than chemo.

"I want people to know the beneficial effects of these natural compounds.Natural biomolecules derived from these plant-based products are inexpensive and a safer alternative to synthetic drugs,” Herman and Brita Lindholm Endowed Chair Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering Susmita Bose said.

So that the compound could be absorbed more efficiently (when taken orally, it is metabolized too quickly), the researchers 3D-printed calcium carbonate support structures for the curcumin, “allowing for the gradual release of the chemical,” according to EurekAlert.

Turmeric, public domain image

This system inhibited osteosarcoma cell growth by 96 percent after 11 days (compared to untreated samples). It also promotes healthy bone growth.

This study was published in the journal, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, and was funded by the National Institutes of Health. This video from the Mayo Clinic further explores the health benefits of turmeric:


Sources: EurekAlert, Mayo Clinic

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
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