Posted: 16 Jul 2024 By:  Reading time: minutes remaining

The Cancer And Turmeric Link

Cancer and turmeric might not be a combination you might have thought of to beat cancer. In this blog post, you will learn the health benefits of turmeric. Discover how you can use this spice to help deal with cancer.


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The information is presented for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe treat or cure cancer.This information is not intended as medical advice, please refer to a qualified healthcare professional.

What Is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a plant with a long history of medicinal use. In Southeast Asia, turmeric is a spice and part of religious ceremonies. Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron due to its yellow color. 

The use of turmeric dates back about 4000 years to the Vedic culture in India. It reached China by 700 AD, East Africa by 800 AD, West Africa by 1200 AD, and Jamaica by the 18th century. In 1280, Marco Polo described this spice as having qualities similar to saffron. 


Turmeric is a plant with a long history of medicinal use

Turmeric goes by different names. In North India, they call turmeric haldi. It's a word derived from the Sanskrit word haridra. In the South, they call turmeric manjal. In Sanskrit, turmeric has at least 53 different names.

The Latin word for turmeric is terra merita (meritorious earth). The term refers to the color of ground turmeric, which resembles a mineral pigment. 

Turmeric comes from a unique plant. Learn more next.

Turmeric Belongs To The Ginger Family

Turmeric is a product of Curcuma longa. It's a plant belonging to the ginger family. There are as many as 133 species of Curcuma worldwide. Most of them have common local names used for various medicinal formulations. 

To thrive, the turmeric plant needs temperatures between 68-86 °F( 20-30°C) and rainfall. Individual plants become 3 feet(1 m) and have long leaves. 

Turmeric roots in a bag

Turmeric is a product of Curcuma longaa plant belonging to the ginger family

Turmeric comes from the root of the plant. The root is (1–3 inches (2.5–7.0 cm ) in length and 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, with smaller tubers branching off. They are yellowish brown with an orange inside. 

India produces all of the world's turmeric and consumes 80% of it. Erode, a city in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is the world's largest producer of turmeric. It's also the most important trading center for turmeric. Erode is also known as "Yellow City," "Turmeric City," or "Textile City." 

There are particular steps you need to follow to produce ground turmeric.

How Turmeric Is Made

Before you can use turmeric roots, you must process them. First, the manufacturer boils or steams the root to remove the raw odor and gelatinize the starch. 

In the traditional Indian process, they used pans or earthenware filled with water. They then covered them with leaves and a layer of cow dung. The ammonia in the cow manure reacted with the turmeric to give the final product.

For hygienic reasons, they don't use this process anymore. Instead, they place the roots in shallow pans containing 0.05–0.1% alkaline water. Indian manufacturers then boil the stems for between 40–45 minutes. 

Grounded turmeric roots

Before you can use turmeric roots, you must process them

In Pakistan, the process is 6 hours, depending on the variety. After the boiling, the manufacturer removes the roots from the water. Then they dry them in the sun.

The final moisture content should be between 8% and 10%. The producer then polishes the roots to remove the rough surface. 

You can find turmeric in food, cosmetics, and medicines. Turmeric is part of curry and gives its distinctive yellow color and flavor.

Turmeric is part of food products such as:

  • Canned beverages
  • Baked products
  • Yellow cakes
  • Orange juice
  • Popcorn
  • Cake icings
  • Sauces
  • Dairy products
  • Ice cream
  • Yogurt
  • Biscuits
  • Sweets
  • Cereals
  • Gelatin

You can use turmeric to help with various health conditions.

Medical Use Of Turmeric

Different parts of the world use turmeric for therapeutic practices. In Ayurveda, they believed it strengthened the body's energy.

They also used it to relieve gas, dispel worms, or improve digestion. Other people regulated menstruation, dissolved gallstones, and reduced arthritis. In Ayurveda, they purified blood and fixed skin conditions with turmeric.

Woman expericing stomach ache

Ayurveda used turmeric to relieve gas, dispel worms, or improve digestion

Turmeric was also a well-documented treatment for asthma, bronchial hyperactivity, and allergies. Other uses include diabetic wounds, runny nose, cough, and sinusitis. Traditional Chinese medicine uses turmeric to treat abdominal pain.

Many South Asian countries use turmeric as an antiseptic for cuts, burns, and bruises. Turmeric is part of several sunscreens. Many multinational companies make face creams based on turmeric.

Turmeric has a unique component that scientists often use in studies.

Curcumin In Turmeric Has Many Health Benefits

Turmeric has more than 100 components. Curcumin and turmeric are two terms used interchangeably. But there's a distinction between the two.

Curcumin is one of many parts of turmeric. Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin. Curcumin is the active compound often credited with most turmeric's health benefits. Turmeric gets its bright yellow color from curcumin. This compound makes up only about 5% of the spice.

Curcurmin in turmeric

Turmeric gets its bright yellow color from curcumin

There are two possible ways turmeric and curcumin may benefit your health. The first one is an anti-oxidant, and the other way is by reducing inflammation.

Let's first look at how it works as an anti-oxidant and then how it reduces inflammation.

Turmeric Helps Fight Free Radicals

Free radicals are reactive and unstable molecules. They are a byproduct of our metabolism. Exposure to toxins in the environment can also create them.

Free radicals are atoms or molecular fragments that have too much or too few electrons. When too much of them build up, they harm the cells of the body.

Free radicals have one or more unpaired electrons which make them unstable. They then seek out other electrons so they can become a pair. Therefore they scavenge your body to grab or donate electrons.

Free radicals in the body increase the risk of diseases such as cancer. You can reduce them by eating food high in anti-oxidants, such as fruits, berries, or vegetables.

normal molecule and free radical

Free radicals are reactive and unstable molecules.

Turmeric has excellent anti-oxidant properties. One study showed that it may protect your body from free radicals by neutralizing them. Another study suggests that turmeric's anti-oxidant effects may boost other anti-oxidants.

Free radicals and toxic products result from oxidative stress. They play an essential role in the early stages of cancer formation. Therefore, compounds that have anti-oxidant effects can help prevent cancer. 

Curcumin traps free radicals. It thus can play a crucial role in stopping the beginning of cancer. Curcumin inhibits DNA damage caused by lack of oxygen.

Turmeric also reduces inflammation, which is at the root of many diseases, including cancer.

Inflammation Is Behind Many Diseases

Inflammation is the immune system's natural response to injury and illness. There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic.

They have different causes, symptoms, and purposes. Acute inflammation often happens because of external injuries caused by accidents.

Depending on the severity of the wound, acute inflammation can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. During an injury, white blood cells trigger the release of several inflammatory chemicals.

Chronic inflammation can last for years or even an entire lifetime. It often begins when there is no injury or illness present. Chronic inflammation is one of several contributing factors to diseases.

inflammation in knee

Inflammation is the immune system's natural response to injury and illness

A deep layer of fat around the abdominal organs produces pro-inflammatory chemicals. Diets high in saturated fat, trans fat, and refined sugar cause increased inflammation.

 Smoking cigarettes lowers the production of anti-inflammatory molecules and increases inflammation. Psychological stress can also increase your inflammation.

Inflammation causes pain because swelling pushes on sensitive nerve endings. Inflammatory substances may also enter joints, causing irritation and swelling.

Turmeric can help you deal with inflammatory conditions.

Turmeric Can Help You Deal With Inflammation

Taking turmeric may be beneficial for inflammation. In one study, patients with ulcerative colitis took 2 grams of curcumin daily. They also took prescription medication. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease.

Those taking turmeric stayed more in remission than those only taking medicine.

Curcumin, in turmeric, benefits inflammatory conditions and thus reduces pain. It may help manage inflammatory and eye conditions.

turmeric in a bowl

Taking turmeric may be beneficial for inflammation

Turmeric's ability to help reduce inflammation and oxidation could lower the risk of heart disease.

A study followed 121 people who had coronary artery bypass surgery. The group that took 4 grams of curcumin daily saw a 65% decreased risk of heart attacks.

Turmeric also may be helpful when used along with medication for managing cholesterol. Research shows that curcumin is safe and reduces heart disease by lowering cholesterol. 

Turmeric also has anti-cancer benefits.

The Exciting Cancer And Turmeric Healing Link

Most  cancer and turmeric studies look at its component curcumin.
Curcumin in
 turmeric may affect cancer growth and development. 

One study, which focused on colorectal cancer, saw a 40% reduction in the number of lesions in the colon in men. Curcumin supplements affect different forms of cancer. They are beneficial in treating cancer. 

Colon highlighted in read

Curcumin in turmeric may help against colon cancer

Curcumin affects cancer growth and development. It can kill cancerous cells or reduce the growth of new blood vessels in tumors. 

There is also evidence that curcumin may prevent cancer in the first place. It can be beneficial for digestive system cancers like colon cancer.

Turmeric, the plant, also has anti-cancer effects.

Turmeric Reduced Carcinogens In Smokers

Most cancer studies use curcumin. However, there was a study that used turmeric. In this study, smokers consumed turmeric. Smokers get carcinogens through their veins every day. So they are great test subjects. Non-smokers were also part of the study.

The scientists collected pee from both groups. Non-smokers had far fewer DNA mutations than smokers. They have fewer toxic chemicals running through their system. 

Ground turmeric surrounded by turmeric roots

Most cancer studies use curcumin

When non-smokers ate turmeric for a month, there was little change. However, smokers reduced the effect of toxins way more than non-smokers.

This effect happened with less than a teaspoon a day. The DNA-damaging power of smoker pee exceeded non-smokers even if they took turmeric. So, the best way to reduce DNA damage is by not smoking in the first place.

Turmeric, by itself, may have more anti-cancer benefits than curcumin supplements.

Is Turmeric More Potent Than Curcumin Supplements?

Turmeric may work even better than curcumin against cancer. The Anderson Cancer Center tested curcumin against seven types of human cancer cells.

Curcumin worked great against breast cancer cells. But turmeric, the whole food, was even better. Turmeric performed better in every cancer they tested. 

The researchers found that turmeric was more potent than curcumin. Other components in turmeric other than curcumin can have anti-cancer effects. 

cancer cells disintegrating

Turmeric may work even better than curcumin against cancer

For example, there are turmerones in turmeric. They may have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. But curcumin supplements remove them. 

Even curcumin-free turmeric has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities. Curcumin-free turmeric is as effective as, or even more effective than, curcumin.


Turmeric is a plant with a long history of medicinal use.

Turmeric is a product of Curcuma longa, a plant belonging to the ginger family.

Before you can use turmeric roots, you must process them.

Different parts of the world use turmeric for therapeutic practices.

Curcumin is one of many parts of turmeric.

Free radicals are reactive and unstable molecules from our metabolism that may cause cancer.

Anti-oxidants can reduce free radicals.

Turmeric has excellent anti-oxidant properties.

Inflammation is the immune system's natural response to injury and illness. 

Taking turmeric may be beneficial for inflammation.

Curcumin in turmeric may affect cancer growth and development. 

Turmeric may work even better than curcumin against cancer.

How To Use Turmeric For Cancer

1. Add fresh or ground turmeric to your food

2. Mix turmeric with black pepper to improve digestibility

3. Make turmeric tea

4. Store turmeric the right way

Action Steps

I hope you learned about the exciting healing link between cancer and turmeric in this blog post. There are several ways you can use turmeric against cancer. You can consume turmeric, either fresh or dried. Turmeric has an earthy, bitter taste. It's a delicious spice for seasoning dishes all on its own. 

One problem with ingesting curcumin is its poor absorption. Several agents improve curcumin's digestibility.  Piperine can increase the absorption of curcumin by 2000%It is the primary active component of black pepper.

Therefore, you can fix the issue by consuming black pepper and turmeric. Turmeric stains easily. So try not to get it on your clothing or countertop.

Half a teaspoon of ground turmeric is enough for seasoning dishes when cooking with ground turmeric. If you find fresh turmeric, grate the root like fresh ginger.

Then, add it to the dishes. Fresh turmeric will also stain your hands. You can substitute one tablespoon of grated fresh turmeric with one teaspoon of dried.

Another way to consume turmeric is by adding it to your tea. In a mug, put ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric. Add 1 cup(2.37 dl) of boiling water and stir. You can use a healthy sweetener of your choice. 

Add some black pepper and stir to combine. Drink it the way you would any cup of tea. You can also squeeze some lemon juice into your tea.

Store ground turmeric and other spices in a cool, dark, dry place. Ground turmeric will begin to lose its zing after a year. Buy small amounts when possible. Check the best-by date on the spice jar or bulk bin to ensure you buy flavorful ground turmeric.

Fresh turmeric root can last in a paper bag in the fridge for two to three weeks. Or in a resealable bag in the freezer for up to a year.

It's not a bad idea to take turmeric daily. If you stick to 12 g or less, you will not likely experience side effects.

You can also read our nutrition guide to find other ways to use plant nutrition to deal with cancer.

Discover How To Use Plant Nutrition To Avoid Cancer

Read this free nutrition guide to learn how to treat cancer by eating vegetables. 

Discover more about micro- and macro nutrients and how to eat a healthy plant-based diet.

Learn how to succeed on a plant-based diet and feel better than before.


About the author 

Simon Persson

Simon Persson is a holistic cancer blogger passionate about natural health remedies. When he is not blogging, he enjoys nature, cooking, sports, and learning about the latest gadgets on the market.

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