Pen­sioner’s can­cer halted by turmeric af­ter chemo failed

Daily Mail - - News - By Ben Spencer Med­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent

A WOMAN who bat­tled blood can­cer for years with­out suc­cess fi­nally halted the dis­ease with turmeric, it has been re­ported.

Dieneke Fer­gu­son is now lead­ing a nor­mal life af­ter giv­ing up on gru­elling treat­ments that failed to stop it.

Doc­tors say her case is the first recorded in­stance in which a pa­tient has re­cov­ered by us­ing the spice af­ter stop­ping con­ven­tional med­i­cal treat­ments.

With her myeloma spread­ing rapidly af­ter three rounds of chemo­ther­apy and four stem cell trans­plants, the 67-yearold be­gan tak­ing 8g of cur­cumin a day – one of the main com­pounds in turmeric.

The can­cer, which has an av­er­age sur­vival of just over five years, was caus­ing in­creas­ing back pain and she had al­ready had a sec­ond re­lapse.

But it sta­bilised af­ter Mrs Fer­gu­son, from North Lon­don, came across the rem­edy on the in­ter­net in 2011 and de­cided to try it as a last re­sort. The tablets are ex­pen­sive – £50 for ten days – but as kitchen turmeric con­tains just 2 per cent cur­cumin it would be im­pos­si­ble to eat enough to get the same dose.

Mrs Fer­gu­son, who was first di­ag­nosed in 2007, con­tin­ues to take cur­cumin with­out fur­ther treat­ment and her can­cer cell count is neg­li­gi­ble.

Her doc­tors, from Barts Health NHS Trust in Lon­don, wrote in the Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal Case Re­ports: ‘To the best of our knowl­edge, this is the first re­port in which cur­cumin has demon­strated an ob­jec­tive re­sponse in pro­gres­sive dis­ease in the ab­sence of con­ven­tional treat­ment.’

The ex­perts, led by Dr Ab­bas Zaidi, said some myeloma pa­tients took di­etary sup­ple­ments along­side con­ven­tional treat­ment but ‘few, if any, use di­etary sup­ple­men­ta­tion as an al­ter­na­tive to stan­dard anti-myeloma ther­apy.’ But they added: ‘In the ab­sence of fur­ther anti-myeloma treat­ment the pa­tient plateaued and has re­mained sta­ble for the past five years with good qual­ity of life.’

Since the turn of the cen­tury, more than 50 stud- ies have tested cur­cumin – the pig­ment in turmeric that gives it that bright yel­low colour.

They sug­gest the spice can pro­tect against sev­eral can­cers, as well as Alzheimer’s, heart dis­ease and de­pres­sion.

It has also been shown to help speed re­cov­ery af­ter surgery and ef­fec­tively treat arthri­tis. But although it is widely used in Eastern medicine, and has been stud­ied for its anti- in­flam­ma­tory and an­ti­sep­tic ef­fects, cur­cumin is not widely pre­scribed be­cause it has never been tested in large-scale tri­als.

The doc­tors wrote that the ‘bi­o­log­i­cal ac­tiv­ity of cur­cumin is in­deed re­mark­able’, in­clud­ing its ‘anti-pro­lif­er­a­tive ef­fects in a wide va­ri­ety of tu­mour cells.’ But Pro­fes­sor Jamie Cave­nagh, one of the au­thors of the pa­per, stressed it may not work for all pa­tients. He said: ‘A lot of my pa­tients take cur­cumin at dif­fer­ent stages of their treat­ment. I don’t ob­ject to it.

‘ Dieneke’s is the best re­sponse I have ob­served and it is clear-cut be­cause we had stopped all other treat­ment.’

Mrs Fer­gu­son, who runs Hidden Art, a not-for-profit busi­ness help­ing artists mar­ket their work, is frus­trated doc­tors can­not rec­om­mend the spice and wants more re­search car­ried out.

She said: ‘I hope my story will lead to more peo­ple find­ing out about the amaz­ing health ben­e­fits of cur­cumin.’

Myeloma af­fects some 5,500 peo­ple in the UK ev­ery year, killing nearly 3,000.

‘Best re­sponse I’ve seen’

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