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A compound formulated from turmeric, a widely used spice from India, can make chemotherapy for head and neck cancer much more effective, according to research from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.
When scientists added the new compound made from curcumin, a principal component of turmeric, to chemotherapy given to cancer patients, they were able to cut the chemotherapeutic dose by 75 percent. The curcumin derivative apparently makes cancer cells much easier to kill by increasing their sensitivity to the chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin. Resistance to cisplatin is a major reason why head and neck cancer patients frequently see their cancer return or spread.
Every year, more than 36,000 Americans are diagnosed with head and neck cancer, and about 7,880 die annually from the disease.