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Spice counters cancer risks of HRT

28th July 2009

Researchers in the United States say that a popular spice found in Indian food could reduce the risk of cancer for women on hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

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The University of Missouri team cited previous studies as saying that postmenopausal women who have taken a combined oestrogen and progestin hormone replacement therapy have an increased risk of developing certain kinds of breast cancer.

But Missouri's Professor Salman Hyder now says that women could potentially take curcumin, a naturally occurring compound found in the popular spice, turmeric, to protect themselves.

In animals, curcumin delayed the first appearance, decreased incidence and reduced multiplicity of progestin-accelerated tumours, Hyder's team found.

It also prevented the appearance of gross morphological abnormalities in the mammary glands.

Researchers from the same university have previously shown that progestin accelerates the development of certain tumours by increasing production of a molecule called VEGF that helps supply blood to the tumour cells.

Curcumin inhibits VEGF from being secreted by cancer cells, making it hard for them to gain a reliable blood supply.

Hyder called for further studies on the effects of curcumin and other potential anti-angiogenic compounds as dietary chemopreventive agents in women taking HRT.

He said such interventions might delay or decrease the incidence of breast cancer in women taking HRT.

Published in the journal Menopause, the study was co-authored by Hyder, Candace Carroll, Cynthia Besch-Williford, and Mark Ellersieck.



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