The natural compound curcumin, found in the yellow spice turmeric, may protect against some forms of cancer. Research published in the US journal Cancer showed that exposing human melanoma cells to curcumin in the laboratory inhibits cancerous sell growth. The researchers suggest that the mechanism for this process involves the suppression of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB). NF-kB is a signalling molecule which in certain types of cancer is constitutively active, rather like a doorbell that gets stuck ringing. The result is uncontrolled cell growth. Curcumin was shown to reduced NF-kB activity and so reduce cell growth. This research implies that curcumin may protect against certain cancers particularly malignant melanoma.
Siwak DR, Shishodia S, Aggarwal BB, Kurzrock R. 2005. Curcumin-induced antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects in melanoma cells are associated with suppression of IkB kinase and nuclear factor kB activity and are independent of the B-Raf/mitogen-activated/extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase pathway and the Akt pathway. Cancer. 104 (4) 879-90.