In one pilot study, 21 people with head and neck cancers gave saliva samples before and after chewing two curcumin tablets containing a total of 1,000 mg of curcumin. Curcumin suppressed a signaling process that tells cancer cells to grow, and reduced inflammatory molecules in the saliva that promote cancer growth.
“The curcumin had a significant inhibitory effect, blocking two different drivers of head and neck cancer growth,” doctors said, going on to suggest that curcumin could combine with other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation to treat head and neck cancers, and might help prevent these cancers in tobacco smokers and chewers, as well as help prevent the recurrence of oral cancers.
Although turmeric, which contains curcumin, is a common cooking spice, the dosage to achieve a clinical effect is much higher. Researchers are planning a longer study, beginning a few weeks before cancer surgery, to see if curcumin produces a larger inhibitory effect.