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Curcumin, a chemical in the spice turmeric commonly used in curries, is going to be tested to see if it kills bowel cancer tumors. The chemical is already known for a variety of health benefits including for dementia and stroke patient, and studies have proven that curcumin can destroy cancer cells in a lab setting.

British scientists will now conduct an interesting trial, in which patients at hospitals in Leicester will receive curcumin along with more traditional chemotherapy drugs. Forty bowel cancer patients at Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General Hospital have agreed to take part in the trial, during which they will receive pills containing curcumin a week before commencing their chemo treatment.

Prof William Steward pointed out that animal studies into this chemical had already shown that the combination of curcumin and chemotherapy could be "100 times better" than chemo alone. He said: "Once bowel cancer has spread it is very difficult to treat, partly because the side effects of chemotherapy can limit how long patients can have treatment. The prospect that curcumin might increase the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapy is exciting because it could mean giving lower doses, so patients have fewer side effects and can keep having treatment for longer."

Prof Steward did add that this trial is being conducted with the hope that it could benefit patients in the future it's unlikely that bowel cancer patients will have access to this treatment in the very near future. "This research is at a very early stage, but investigating the potential of plant chemicals to treat cancer is an intriguing area that we hope could provide clues to developing new drugs in the future," he pointed out.

In the meantime, don't feel guilty about the calories you pile on with that Saturday night curry, and think of its cancer combating potential instead!

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