Common Spice May Protect Skin During Radiation Therapy
NY, 7 October 2002
Copyright 2002 University of Rochester Medical Center, reprinted
researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have found
that curcumin, a substance in curry long believed to have health
benefits, seems to protect skin during radiation therapy. Doctors
say that while further study is needed, cancer patients could consider
eating foods with curry during their radiation treatment.
the substance that gives turmeric its yellow color, is a natural
anti-inflammatory compound. Scientists have already shown that it
can suppress tumor blood vessel growth. This process, called anti-angiogenesis,
can strangle tumors. Now, James P. Wilmot Cancer Center researchers
have discovered through a study of mice that curcumin may protect
skin from the burns and blisters that often occur during radiation
is significant because skin damage is a real problem for patients
undergoing radiation to treat their tumors. If a non-toxic, natural
substance can help prevent this damage and enhance the effectiveness
of our radiation, that's a winning situation," said Paul Okunieff,
MD, chief of radiation oncology at the Wilmot Cancer Center. Scientists
presented results of the pilot study at the 44th annual meeting
of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology on
Monday, October 7, in New Orleans.
team of researchers, led by Ivan Ding, MD, assistant professor of
radiation oncology, studied the impact of various doses of curcumin
on skin protection in mice given radiation therapy. The difference
in skin damage was dramatic.
were far fewer blisters or burns on the mice who had been given
curcumin," Ding said.
the study, 200 mice were given three different doses of curcumin
for five to seven days. On the fifth day, mice were given a single
dose of radiation and scientists waited 20 days to assess skin damage.
The mice who received curcumin had minimal skin damage caused by
radiation. Scientists also found the substance suppresses development
of new cells in the area of tumor, thus furthering the effectiveness
doctors are not ready to say that curcumin is the answer to preventing
skin damage, researchers believe the results demonstrate the need
for more extensive study.
plan further scrutiny of curcumin and combinations with other anti-inflammatory
compounds to determine what could be the best way to prevent skin
damage, Ding said.
all cancer patients who get radiation treatment experience some
form of skin damage -- from mild sunburn all the way to blisters
-- that is painful for many," Okunieff said. "If we can find a simple
way to help prevent that, it would make treatment a bit easier."
of Rochester Medical Center.