Fighting cancer with turmeric?

On Monday I read a Toronto Sun article written by Dr. Richard Béliveau (no need to introduce him, I hope! 🙂 ): Nothing new…except for what he says towards the end. I had to stop, rub my eyes and then read these two paragraphs again:

Studies done recently by a group of Japanese researchers have also shown that the metabolising of curcumin could be influenced by the abundance of bacterial flora found in the colon […]. The researchers were also able to determin that Escherichia coli, an abundant layer of bacteria in the colon, possesses an enzyme capable of transforming curcumin into tetrahydrocurcumin, a more stable version of the original polyphenol.

This is particularly interesting considering that secondary studies showed that the anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous activity of tetrahydrocurcumin is even higher than that of curcumin itself. In other words, far from reducing its cancer-fighting potential, the transformation of curcumin by some intestinal bacteria could instead increase its power and therefore play a major role in the multiple health benefits associated with the regular consumption of turmeric.

Whatwhatwhaaat? WHATWHATWHAAAAAAAT???!!!!! Tetrahydrocurcumin is a more stable and perhaps EVEN BETTER cancer-fighter than curcumin????????? Why, that’s the complete opposite of what I’ve read up to now. My world has been turned upside down…What an incredibly exciting concept! More research needed, clearly…but not today. I’m too distracted…today…


  1. I will read this article shortly, but wanted to just point out that gut bacteria are likely going to be the determining factor in human health very soon, whether it’s obesity, diabetes, or cancer. The stuff that lives in us determines our health, not unlike what we do to the Earth. And it could be, could I say, that intestinal flora/fauna composition is a significant determinant for predisposition to certain cancers and effectiveness of certain remedies, i.e., not every gut is equal, and our diets may determine what we get and whether we can combat it. I cite the work by Jeff Gordon at Washington University in St. Louis (well, I’ll link to an NPR article about it because the list of citations would be too much):

  2. How does YOUR garden grow… your internal flora garden, that is… VERY VERY interesting info!!

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