According to new research curcumin may play a role in oral cancers associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Curcumin is one of the spice turmerics key active ingredients and is responsible for its yellow color. Curcuminoids are the strongest most protective and most researched components of the turmeric root. This Indian spice has a long history of use for many health conditions; it has anti-inflammatory properties is a powerful antioxidant and exhibits anticancer properties.
According to this new research curcumin appears to shut down the activity of the human papillomavirus. HPV is a virus that promotes the development of cervical and oral cancer. About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV and approximately 14 million people become infected each year. There is currently no cure for this but curcumin may now prove to be of benefit.
The research team first recognized the effect of curcumin on HPV and cervical cancer cells in 2005 where curcumin was shown to slow the expression of HPV implying that curcumin could limit the extent of the HPV infection.
Since HPV-related oral cancer cases have been increasing the team tested this on oral cancer.
The new research demonstrates that curcumin turns down the expression of HPV in infected oral cancer cells by down-regulating the levels of cellular transcription factors AP-1 and NF-kB. In addition curcumin may enhance the bodies ability to fight infections by boosting natural killer cell activity.
These study results could suggest a new therapeutic application for curcumin in cancer control.