Curcumin, an active ingredient in spicy dishes, combined with silymarin, a component of milk thistle, could help treat colon cancer.
Silymarin has been used for liver disease treatment for centuries.
New research has found that fighting colon cancer cells firstly with curcumin and then with silmarian was effective.
Using only one of these two phytochemicals (biologically active compounds found in plants) appeared to be less efficient in this study.
Dr Uthayashanker Ezekiel, one of the study’s authors, said:
“The combination of phytochemicals inhibited colon cancer cells from multiplying and spreading.
In addition, when the colon cancer cells were pre-exposed to curcumin and then treated with silymarin, the cells underwent a high amount of cell death.
Phytochemicals may offer alternate therapeutic approaches to cancer treatments and avoid toxicity problems and side effects that chemotherapy can cause.”
This is a preliminary cell study therefore more research in human is required to see if these two ingredients are effective for treating patients with colon cancer.
However, these phytochemicals hold promise to prevent colon cancer.
Dr Ezekiel concluded:
“Concentrations of curcumin and silymarin that are too high could be harmful to people.
We still have much to learn, and for now, it’s so much safer to add a little spice to your diet and get your curcumin from foods that contain turmeric, such as curry, rather than taking high doses of the compound.”
The study was published in the Journal of Cancer (Montgomery et al., 2016).
Milk thistle image from Shutterstock