According to researchers at Rutgers University, New Jersey, the curry spice turmeric has the potential for the treatment and prevention of prostate cancer.
It seems this is particularly the case when it is combined with certain vegetables.
The scientists tested turmeric, also known as curcumin, along with phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a naturally occurring substance in certain vegetables such as watercress, cabbage, winter cress, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi and turnips.
They say that in experiments in laboratory mice, PEITC and curcumin, alone or in combination, showed significant cancer-preventive qualities.
Ah-Ng Tony Kong, a professor of pharmaceutics at Rutgers, says they believe the combination of the two could be effective in treating established prostate cancers.
It is estimated that Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States, with a half-million new cases appearing each year.
The incidence and mortality of prostate cancer has not decreased in the last decade despite tremendous efforts and resources devoted to treatment because advanced prostate cancer cells are unresponsive to even high concentrations of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Kong and his colleagues at Rutgers' Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy noticed that in contrast to the high incidence of prostate cancer in the United States, the incidence of the disease is very low in India.
This has been attributed to the high consumption of plant-based foods rich in phytochemicals which have protective or disease-preventive properties.
This led scientists to investigate intervention options based on compounds found in edible and medicinal plants.
The researchers used mice bred so that their immune systems would not reject foreign biological material and then injected the mice with cells from human prostate cancer cell lines to grow tumors against which the compounds could be tested.