HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Spice Up Your Life

A Reuters report informs us of recent studies showing that certain spices may help kill certain cancers.  According to the report, 

Ginger can kill ovarian cancer cells while the compound that makes peppers hot can shrink pancreatic tumors, researchers told a conference on Tuesday.

Dr. Rebecca Liu, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, and colleagues tested ginger powder dissolved in solution by putting it on ovarian cancer cell cultures.

It killed the ovarian cancer cells in two different ways -- through a self-destruction process called apoptosis and through autophagy in which cells digest themselves, the researchers told a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"Most ovarian cancer patients develop recurrent disease that eventually becomes resistant to standard chemotherapy, which is associated with resistance to apoptosis," Liu said in a statement.

"If ginger can cause autophagic cell death in addition to apoptosis, it may circumvent resistance to conventional chemotherapy."

and for those of you who prefer to spice up food with chili peppers:

A second study found that capsaicin, which makes chili peppers hot, fed to mice caused apoptosis death in pancreatic cancer cells, said Sanjay Srivastava of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

"Capsaicin triggered the cancerous cells to die off and significantly reduced the size of the tumors," he said.

The spicy compound killed pancreatic tumor cells but did not affect normal, healthy pancreas cells, researchers told the AACR meeting.

Last year the same team reported similar results with pancreatic cells in lab dishes. Pancreatic cancer is highly deadly, killing 31,000 of the 32,000 it will be diagnosed in this year.

Last month researchers in Los Angeles reported that capsaicin killed prostate tumor cells. Other studies have shown that turmeric, a yellow spice used widely in Indian cooking, may help stop the spread of lung cancer and breast cancer in mice.

Of course, keep in mind that: 

Experts point out that many compounds shown to stop cancer in mice are not nearly as effective in human cancer patients.

Thanks to Pandagon for the website!  [bm]

| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Spice Up Your Life:


Post a comment