Ann Arbor, MI—Preventing cancer is the holy grail of healthcare today. Though there are no definitive answers for breast cancer, researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center believe that certain spices could be part of the puzzle.

In an in vitro study, human breast cancer stem cell growth was stunted when cells were put in contact with curcumin and piperine (donated by Sabinsa Corporation of Piscataway, NJ). Piperine, in fact, helped improve the effects of the curcumin. The compounds “interrupted the self-renewal process that is the hallmark of cancer-initiating stem cells,” according to a press statement. Importantly, these spices had no such effect on normal cells.

Tmushroom wisdomhis research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is noteworthy because controlling these cells (which lead to the formation of tumors and fuel their growth) is the key to conquering cancer. Chemotherapies generally don’t work against these stem cells, which is why cancer can recur and spread.

“Women at high risk of breast cancer right now can choose to take the drugs tamoxifen or raloxifene for prevention, but most women won’t take these drugs because there is too much toxicity. The concept that dietary compounds can help is attractive, and curcumin and piperine appear to have very low toxicity,” stated lead author Madhuri Kakarala, M.D., Ph.D., R.D.


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, Feb. 2010