Narrator: This is Science Today. Curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, a yellow spice often used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, may be the next weapon against certain types of human cancers. In previous studies, researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center had shown that curcumin could suppress the growth of head and neck cancers in mice. Researcher Marilene Wang explains how, in a new pilot study, humans who were given curcumin treatments showed reduced amounts of certain cancer-promoting molecules.
Wang: We found a very significant change in certain enzymes that have to do with cancer growth and in cytokines, which are molecules that are important in inflammation and cancer.
Narrator: Wang explains that human patients in their study chewed on curcumin slowly.
Wang: So, it would gradually dissolve in the mouth and then we had taken a saliva sample before the curcumin and then we waited an hour and took another saliva sample afterwards. And then we studied the saliva for any change in the enzymes and the markers.
Narrator: Wang says more studies are planned, but this is a promising first step. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.