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Jan 20 2009

Turmeric Component Protects Against Toxic Compound Consumed in Many Meals

Curcumin, the pigment that gives turmeric its yellow color, may reduce the damaging effects of acrylamide (AA), a potential carcinogen created when starchy foods are baked, roasted, fried or toasted.

Swedish scientists first reported on acrylamide’s widespread presence in the food supply in 2002, when they found unexpectedly high levels of acrylamide in carbohydrate-rich foods. This was of concern since the toxin causes cancer in laboratory rats. Other scientists have found that acrylamide causes DNA to fragment, increases formation of damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) and triggers the death of liver cells. It is also genotoxic, meaning that it damages a cell’s genetic material affecting the cell’s integrity. Genotoxic substances have the potential to be carcinogens and can cause genetic mutations that lead to the development of tumors.

Due to its antioxidant abilities, researchers studied curcumin’s effects on human liver cells exposed to acrylamide. They found that curcumin significantly reduced the production of reactive oxygen species that occurred in acrylamide-treated cells. Curcumin also inhibited the acrylamide-induced DNA fragments and significantly reduced the acrylamide-triggered cell death, indicating curcumin could ameliorate acrylamide’s known genotoxicity.

The researchers believe that curcumin’s effects are likely due to its antioxidant abilities. They concluded, “Consumption of curcumin may be a plausible way to prevent AA-mediated genotoxicity.”

Reference:

Cao J, Liu Y, Jia L, Jiang LP, Geng CY, Yao XF, Kong Y, Jiang BN, Zhong LF. Curcumin Attenuates Acrylamide-Induced Cytotoxicity and Genotoxicity in HepG2 Cells by ROS Scavenging. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Nov 14. Published Online Ahead of Print.

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