Woman with breast cancer ribbon with hand over her breast

Breast Health Tip #4: Add Some Spice to Your Life

The Indian cooking spice turmeric, responsible for the intense color of curry, is phenomenal in its ability to promote and protect health especially against cancer. This indigenous plant of Asia and India has been a superstar of the pharmacopoeia of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 5,000 years — and for good reason. Over 1,300 published studies in the medical literature confirm that this spectacular spice is one of nature’s most intelligent creations.

The many imaginative and brilliant ways that it wards off cancer are nothing short of astounding. Turmeric breaks down toxins, stimulates the immune system, is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. It also specifically stops breast cancers from growing. It does this by causing cancer cells to die, stopping new blood vessels from growing and feeding tumors, and helping to prevent metastasis or spread of tumors. Turmeric also enhances the anti-tumor effects of two other notable natural breast cancer fighters: soy and green tea. For instance, turmeric makes the anti-cancer effects of green tea 8 times more potent and makes soy far more effective in blocking estrogen receptors in breast cells.


Turmeric is so powerful at protecting against and fighting cancer – scientists consider it the number one anti-cancer herb. Over 1300 published studies have documented the many amazing and diverse healing properties of turmeric including the ability to significantly reduce your risk of breast cancer as well as many other types of cancer. Research shows it has good effect against at least 8 different cancers: cancer of the lung, mouth, colon, liver, kidney, skin (melanoma), breast and leukemia.

There are 5 general properties of turmeric that make it such a good cancer fighter.

First, turmeric breaks down toxins in the liver and prevents carcinogens from forming.

Second, turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. This is an important anti-cancer defense because inflammation plays a key role in the formation and progression of many cancers.

Third, turmeric is a powerful antioxidant – 300 times more potent than vitamin E. Antioxidants protect against cancer by destroying cancer-causing oxygen free radicals.

Forth, turmeric stimulates the immune system. A healthy active immune system is essential for fighting off most diseases and illness including cancer.

Fifth, turmeric helps to emulsify fat and promote weight loss. Obesity increases the risk of many types of cancer including breast cancer.

If you have cancer and need to take chemotherapy, turmeric can be extremely beneficial too because it can help to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy against your tumor while protecting your organs from its damaging effects.


Turmeric has several ways it specifically helps to prevent and fight breast cancer.

First, it can block breast cancer-causing toxins. For example, DDT and chloradane mimic the estrogen molecule in our body (Too much estrogen has been found to be the primary cause of breast cancer. Estrogen attaches to estrogen receptors on the breast cells and causes them to start dividing. The faster cells divide, the higher the risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer is cell division out of control.) That means these pesticides act like estrogen in our body with one big difference: they act much more powerfully than natural estrogen. When these chemicals attach to the estrogen receptor, they cause breast cells to divide much more rapidly than natural estrogen does. Turmeric can decrease the estrogenic effect of these pesticides and help to block them from attaching the estrogen receptors in the breast.

Second, turmeric “down regulates” the estrogen receptor. That means when the estrogen receptor is “turned on” by estrogen, the response will not be as great and breast cells won’t divide as rapidly as the normally would.

Third, turmeric inhibits or blocks an enzyme called COX-2 that has been found to play a key role in the initiation and progression of breast cancer. The COX-2 enzyme is responsible for a long list of dangerous effects. It stimulates tumor cells to divide, prevents tumor cell death, stimulates the growth of new blood vessels into the tumor, makes the tumor better at invading the surrounding tissues, blocks important tumor suppressing effects of the immune system, increases the risk of metastasis or spread of the tumor to other areas of the body, and increases the production of a molecules that can cause mutations in our genes that will lead to cancer. Turmeric is able to block all of these effects.


Turmeric is prepared by soaking and then drying the root. The root is then ground into a powder. Powdered turmeric can be found in the spice section of most grocery stores. It is also a key ingredient in most curry powders and some Ayurvedic “churna’s” or standard mixtures of healing spices used for cooking. Remember to buy “organically grown” turmeric to avoid any harmful chemicals and pesticides. Add about 1/4th teaspoon to vegetables, soups, grains or other dishes near the end of cooking. Turmeric should be cooked but not over-cooked. You can also take turmeric as a supplement. Two 500mg capsules a day is the recommended dose.

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Written by Christine Horner MD FACS

Explore Wellness in 2021