The People's Chemist

Director of Baylor University’s Center for Gastrointestinal Research Interviewed: Are Turmeric’s Cancer Claims Legit?

Right now, millions of your cells are committing suicide, because your immune system views them as a threat. Once those cells are cleaned and eliminated from the body, only healthy cells are left behind. This is a good thing. In fact, your survival depends on it. That’s because cancer is a normal cellular process that happens on an everyday basis. It only leads to death when rogue cells fail to commit suicide, due to some type of DNA damage.

Therefore, rather than “fight” cancer, you simply need to cooperate with your body to ensure that your vital, innate protection mechanism — cell suicide (technically known as apoptosis) — is intact. One of the best ways to do this is by taking turmeric, which carries the active ingredient known as curcumin or curcuminoids .

Otherwise known as “Indian gold,” turmeric has been used as an immunity booster in the Far East for thousands of years, probably tens of thousands. Only in the last two decades has it received attention from major universities and hospitals for its ability to prevent and fight cancer.

Early in the 1990s, the University of Texas’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, found the anti-cancer effects of turmeric to be “staggering.” After sprinkling a pinch of the spice on cancer cells in the lab, they found that it blocked a crucial pathway required for the development of skin cancer and other types, including prostate tumors.

Epidemiology has further increased the excitement around turmeric with population studies showing that India, the country whose residents consume most of the world’s turmeric, has the world’s lowest prostate cancer rate — twenty-five times less than that of men within the United States!

Studies by the University of Wisconsin and others reported that turmeric blocks a type of cancer fertilizer known as VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor). As a result, it forces cancer cells to kill themselves. In 2001, scientists also discovered that turmeric dampens the inflammation cascade within the body, thereby stopping the proliferation of cancer in its tracks.

Unlike conventional treatments that murder all cells, including healthy ones, turmeric has laser focus on only the sick ones. In 2002, scientists began unraveling how turmeric selectively gave cancer cells a biological smack-down. They found that cancer cells produce “transcription factors” that turn off the survival mechanism of cell suicide.

Turmeric’s active ingredients include a host of compounds known as curcuminoids. Collectively, they attack the cancer’s transcription factor. Doing so restores the cells’ ability to commit suicide and, therefore, frees us from cancer’s wanton destruction without harming healthy cells in the process.

Dr. Ajay Goel, Ph.D., a cancer researcher, and director of Baylor University’s Center for Gastrointestinal Research, recently sat down with me to share his interest and findings about curcumin. Growing up in poverty-stricken India, he always wondered why the United States has such a high cancer rate, while India remains relatively free from it.

Ever since his childhood, he has studied the medicinal properties of both curcumin and boswellic acids (from frankincense) for their anti-inflammatory potential. In time, he discovered their remarkable anti-cancer properties firsthand. But that wasn’t all.

In 2012, Dr. Goel reported that rheumatoid arthritis patients who took turmeric for eight weeks reported less joint swelling and tenderness compared to those who took a common anti-inflammatory drug. He also showed how curcumin prevented Alzheimer’s Disease and slowed progression among those who suffer from the memory-stealing illness. His findings prompted him to write the book, Curcumin: Nature’s Answer to Cancer and Other Chronic Diseases. He graciously offered his time to give me a short interview.

TPC #1: How did you become interested in cancer research?

Dr. Goel: After I finished my doctorate in biophysics, disease prevention was my primary research. I was interested in the paradox of India’s low cancer rates, despite overcrowding and poverty. I began studying the calorically restrictive diet and turmeric — as well as other botanicals — as the key factors in cancer avoidance.

TPC #2: What other botanicals sparked your interest? And what health benefits did you find associated with them?

Dr. Goel: Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory. In my lab we are finding that this enables it to be a great cancer fighter. In fact, we should start thinking of cancer as “inflammation that can be treated,” not cancer that is automatically deadly. Boswellic acid from frankincense is another botanical that activates another anti-inflammatory mechanism that complements turmeric and boosts its health properties, especially for prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

TPC #3: Do you think an individual’s cancer is ever really “cured,” or do you prefer to think of it as being managed to the point of symptoms no longer being a problem?

Dr. Goel: I try to never call anything a cancer cure. It’s all about managing inflammation. Life happens, and there is always some kind of inflammation in our body at some point. But if we keep calling it “cancer” then everyone over 50 is going to be diagnosed with the disease. New screening tests are just around the corner and they’re so sensitive that many patients could be falsely labeled and treated with risky meds. In contrast, if we think of cancer as inflammation, we can treat it as inflammation and use botanicals as the first line of defense.

TPC #4: With so many studies showing that curcumin can effectively treat many types of cancer, why is the use of this ingredient not considered a standard of care in oncology, especially for patients who are in remission?

Dr. Goel: That’s not part of the culture at Baylor Hospital. We always recommend turmeric and use it routinely. Unfortunately, we have a wonderful business model for pharmaceuticals, not botanicals, and it’s the driving force behind keeping man-made drugs on the front lines of cancer treatment.

Thank you Dr. Goel!

To date, cancer is a growing epidemic. As the rest of the world adopts Western habits of poor lifestyle and diet, cancer will continue its scourge. Now more than ever, it’s critical that you give your body the nutrients it needs – like turmeric – to force cancer cells to commit suicide. I appreciate Dr. Goel’s efforts and hard-won fight to bring the Indian Spice and other botanicals to the forefront of cancer research. For readers who want to learn more about overcoming cancer, read his book Curcumin: Nature’s Answer to Cancer and Other Chronic Diseases. For an exact protocol on how to fight cancer, see Over-The-Counter Natural Cures Expanded.

About the Author

Shane Ellison

My name is Shane “The People’s Chemist” Ellison. I hold a master’s degree in organic chemistry and am the author of Over-The-Counter Natural Cures Expanded Edition (SourceBooks). I’ve been quoted by USA Today, Shape, Woman’s World, US News and World Report, as well as Women’s Health and appeared on Fox and NBC as a medicine and health expert. Start protecting yourself and loved ones with my FREE report, 3 Worst Meds.

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