Science News

Spices Curry Favour in Fight against Alzheimers

Sat, 5th Aug 2006

Part of the show Q&A and What Does Derek Look Like?

Alzheimer's disease is certainly a hot topic this month because researchers from Singapore have found evidence for a protective effect of eating curry. Tze-Pin Ng and colleagues, from the National University of Singapore, looked at the eating habits of over 1000 Asians aged 60-93. Using a "mini mental test" to assess cognitive function amongst the participants, the team found that occasional curry eaters (those that ate curry once or more in 6 months) and regular curry eaters (more than once a month) had better test scores than "never" or "rare" curry eaters. Indeed, previous studies have hinted at lower Alzheimer's rates in countries like India, where curry is a staple. The teams suspect that the key to their findings might lie with the popular curry herb turmeric, a component of which, curcumin, has antioxidant properties. At the same time another research group, from Johns Hopkins in the US, have found that the same chemical, curcumin, in combination with an antioxidant found in onions, called quercetin, can help to warn off bowel cancer. Writing in the August edition of the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Francis Giardiello and his colleagues enrolled five patients with a genetic tendency towards bowel cancer on a daily regime of quercetin and curcumin. In these patients the number of polyps (pre-malignant lesions on the intestinal wall) dropped by about 60% and those that remained shrank by 50% after 6 months.

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