Curcumin May Protect Smokers from Nicotine-Induced Head, Neck Cancers

SAN DIEGO – Curcumin, a compound that is found in the India curry spice turmeric, seems to be effective in stopping nicotine’s adverse effects in smokers with head and neck cancer, according to a study.

Presented at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting and OTO EXPO in San Diego, the study examined the effects of curcumin on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) growths.

It used an in vitro model of a variety of head and neck cancer cell lines.

The researchers behind it pre-treated HNSCC cells with curcumin, and then introduced nicotine, with a view to mimicking the clinical situation.

They observed that curcumin was able to block the nicotine from activating cancer causing cells.

Though nicotine itself has not been shown to be carcinogenic, it has been shown to encourage the cancer-forming process.

The researchers said that they wanted to find out a safe, bioactive food compound that could be used not only as a chemopreventive agent, but that could also block the harmful effects of nicotine.

They believe that their findings may help to discover additional therapies for cancer prevention and treatment.

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