Turmeric may help prevent the spread of breast cancer to the lungs, especially in conjunction with Taxol

June 13, 2005

Turmeric, the yellowish spice used widely in Indian cuisine, stops the spread of cancer in mice according to research funded by the U.S. Department of Defense's Breast Cancer Reasearch Program. The active polyphenol in Turmeric known as Curcumin, helped stop the spread of breast cancer to the lungs. The scientists already have started the research on humans and they claim that safety is not an issue because the herb is nontoxic - this is half the battle, the only issue is efficacy. The herb has both cancer preventing and cancer treating properties. In this study, breast cancer cells were injected into the mice. These particular cells came from a patient whose breast cancer had spread to the lungs. The resulting tumors were allowed to grow and then surgery was performed to remove the cancer and resemble a mastectomy. The mice were then split into four different groups; one group received no additional treatment, the next group received the drug paclitaxel, known as Taxol, the third group received curcumin plus Taxol, and the last group received curcumin alone. 95% of the mice that received no additional treatment developed lung metastasis. 75% of those that received Taxol alone developed lung metastasis, the figure dropped down to 50% of those on curcumin only, which was better than Taxol alone, and of those on both Taxol and curcumin, the number dropped all the way down to 22%. The researchers state that unfortunately, no drug company will sponsor research on an herb that cannot be patented, so the only source of funding is the Department of Defense or the National Institutes of Health. The research was performed at the University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Scientists find an important gene involved with male pattern baldness

Al men inherit the X chromosome from their mother. German researchers have found that a variant of the male hormone gene (androgens) that is on the X chromosome, is most likely at the core of male-pattern baldness. In this study 95 German families in which at least two brothers had begun losing hair before the age of 40, had their blood tested for specific gene variations. Their blood was compared to family members who still had a full head of hair at the age of 60. A particular variant in the androgen receptor gene was found much more frequently in the men who experienced hair loss at a young age. On the scalp, excessive androgen activity causes hair loss. The researchers are currently searching for possible genes inherited from the father. The study is published in the July 2005 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.