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A bowl of Thai curry may help fight cancer
Published on February 04, 2005

Scientists seeking a treatment for cancer believe they may have discovered a potential new weapon in the battle against the killer disease in a bowl of Thai curry, a British newspaper reported yesterday.

Galangal a plant root similar to ginger is an ingredient in most Thai dishes, and it has now been proven that an extract of the plant can both kill cancer cells and protect healthy ones from the disease, the Scotsman newspaper said.

The research by a team at Kings College, London has discovered galangal has the ability to activate an enzyme that attacks cancer cells.

Professor Peter Houghton, who led the research, found that extract of the root provided a dual function of cure and protection that is very rare. Normally, natural remedies do one thing or the other. Galangal appears to do both, he told the newspaper.

But he added: We are not yet talking about cures for cancer. We have only added a page to the sum total of our knowledge.

His research into the medicinal properties of natural remedies has been going on for 30 years, and one in four medicines on the market is based on plant molecules, including drugs for the treatment of cancer and Alzheimers disease.

Weve shown galangal can potentially kill cancerous cells and strengthen healthy cells, but theres a way to go, said Houghton.

However, there is a basis to claim it could be used to treat cancer. We need further tests, such as looking at whether people who eat galangal on a daily basis are less likely to suffer from cancer than those who do not.

He found that when galangal was added to liver cells under laboratory conditions, it activated a detoxifying enzyme known as GST glutathione S-transferase one of several important enzymes involved in excreting carcinogens.

Previous research has shown substances that increase activity of GST also prevent cells from becoming cancerous.

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