July 17, 2009

Turmeric may help lower breast cancer risk

Turmeric may help lower risk of breast cancer after exposure to hormone replacement therapy, U.S. researchers say.

The study, published in the journal Menopause, found curcumin -- a component of the spice turmeric -- delayed the first appearance, decreased incidence and reduced multiplicity of progestin-accelerated tumors in an animal model. Progestin is a synthetic progestagen that has effects similar to the hormone progesterone.

Curcumin also prevented the appearance of gross abnormalities in the mammary glands, the study says.

Curcumin and other potential anti-angiogenic compounds should be tested further as dietary chemopreventive agents in women already exposed to hormone replacement therapy containing estrogen and progestin in an effort to decrease or delay the risk of breast cancer associated with combined hormone replacement therapy, study co-author Salman Hyder of the University of Missouri in Columbia says in a statement.

The researchers say curcumin inhibits progestin-induced secretion from breast cancer cells of a molecule called VEGF. In previous studies, the Missouri researchers found progestin accelerated the development of certain tumors by increasing production of VEGF.