Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Curry in the Lab and Kitchen

Curcumin is in turmeric which is in curry. Obviously then, curry is a spice blend, not an herb itself. Scientists in Ireland have recently completed an in-lab study of how this spice compound affects esophageal cancer cells. Cells communicate in intricate fashion to either multiply, or die. The scientists found that this compound did not trigger the usual suicide message but in some other fashion, led to the destruction of the cancer cells. More study will follow.

Esophageal cancer is not our number one cancer but it is a lethal one.
World wide it is one of the top ten new cancers and cancer killers but not in developed countries, though it makes the top ten list for cancer deaths in men (#9). It is not on the top ten at all in the USA. Still, it is a lethal cancer.

Most persons who have tumors will die within five years. The main risks for esophageal cancer can be reviewed on the National Cancer Institute website. It is laudable that the information found there includes a distinction between solid evidence and fair evidence. It is also important to know that there are two distinct forms of esophageal cancer and the risks for them are not the same. One is a squamous cell cancer and the other an adenocarcinoma.

There is solid evidence that the squamous cell type is caused by smoking and alcohol use and that eating a diet high in cruciferous vegetables (fibrous) can reduce the risk of this cancer. For the adenocarcinoma, the evidence for risk is less strong. There is some association between GERD and this cancer though it is not known if surgical treatment of GERD would decrease the risk. Protective factors are not offered, however, in my past study of GERD, it was learned that preventing symptoms was imperative as those symptoms, i.e. burning in stomach and chest area, were signs of gastric fluid back up and the fluids are caustic.

Hard for this lay person to explain squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma though it comes up with several cancers. Basically a squamous cell is a thin flat cell and cancer can begin there. It can be squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) it situ or in place, or invasive, meaning it spreads outside of the original location. I believe that squamous cells are in tissues and skin. Adenocarcinoma involves the tissues in our glandular organs, or organs that secrete mucus or other fluids. Again, this is to the best of my understanding. Many cancers can take either form.

(Help from NCI, Wikipedia, the American Cancer Society and Medical Dictionary)

All this being said – I wanted to share a video recipe of an AWESOME curry infused dish. Enjoy.

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