An active ingredient found in turmeric can help fight breast cancer effectively, researchers say. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers say that an active ingredient found in turmeric can help fight breast cancer effectively. The study reported in the journal Cancer Prevention Research found that curcumin shrinks breast tumours in mice.

However, direct intake of the component through diet, can be of little use for this purpose, as it breaks down in the stomach, Daily Mail reported.  

To overcome this difficulty, a team of researchers from the University of Louisville in US designed miniature dissolving capsules, two millimetres in length. Each capsule contained 200 milligrams of curcumin.

During the four month study, researchers fed mice either with a diet rich with the spice or surgically implanted two capsules daily.

Results showed that the curcumin implants helped reduce size of the tumour and prevented further growth. When surgically implanted, curcumin directly reaches the bloodstream, blocking activities of hormones that promote tumour growth.  On the other hand, while delivering the same compound through diet, body will fail to get enough curcumin to fight the tumour.

"Curcumin is widely known for its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities," the researchers told, Daily Mail. "The implants resulted in significant reduction in both the tumour multiplicity and tumour volume. But the dietary curcumin was ineffective."

Similar to the current study, countless studies in the past have highlighted anti-cancer power of turmeric. In 2012, scientists from the Cancer Research UK and the National Institute for Health Research Experimental Cancer Medicine (ECMC) reported that curcumin in turmeric can help cure bowel cancer

Last year, a team of researchers from the Louisiana State University in the US found that a combo of the natural compounds derived from plants like curcumin (turmeric), isoflavone (soybeans), indo-3-carbinol (cruciferous plants), c-phycocyanin (spirulina), reservatrol (grapes), and quercetin, (flavonoid found in fruits, vegetables, and tea) was 100 percent successful in killing breast cancer cells. Interestingly, the mixture made from these six foods completed the task without leaving any toxic side effects on the healthy cells.

Apart from its anti-cancer effects, curcumin has also been found effective in preventing lung damage in premature babies.