Researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Centre have found that curcumin, the main component in the spice turmeric, suppresses a cell-signalling pathway in human saliva that drives the growth of head and neck cancer.
The inhibition of the cell signalling pathway was also correlated with reduced expression of a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines, or signalling molecules, in the saliva that promote cancer growth, said Dr. Marilene Wang, senior author of the study and a Jonsson Cancer Centre researcher.
"This study shows that curcumin can work in the mouths of patients with head and neck malignancies and reduce activities that promote cancer growth," Wang said.
"And it not only affected the cancer by inhibiting a critical cell signalling pathway, it also affected the saliva itself by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines within the saliva," she added.
The study was published September 15 in Clinical Cancer Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Association of Cancer Research .