​Pensioner Halts Cancer With Everyday Supermarket Ingredient Turmeric

A London pensioner has apparently halted an incurable blood cancer in its tracks with the help of one simple supermarket product: turmeric.

Dieneke Ferguson, 67, had been diagnosed with deadly myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow, but after turning to the staple curry spice she's now living a normal life.

Desperate for an alternative when chemotherapy and stem cell treatments failed, Ferguson began taking curcumin - one of the main compounds in turmeric. She'd taken 8g (0.3oz) each day in tablet form, which is the equivalent of about two teaspoons.

Credit: Rio2016 / Fernando Soutello
Credit: Rio2016 / Fernando Soutello

Dr Abbas Zaidi, a haematologist at Barts NHS Health Trust, said: "Here we describe a myeloma patient who started a daily dietary supplement of curcumin when approaching her third relapse.

"In the absence of further antimyeloma treatment the patient plateaued and has remained stable for the last five years with good quality of life."

After being diagnosed a decade ago and undergoing three rounds of chemotherapy, and several failed attempts to harvest stem calls for a transplant, she began taking curcumin in 2011. By that point, her life expectancy was predicted to be one year at the very best.

According to the Times, the tablet that she took is made by an Indian company called Sabinsa, and cost £50 ($68) every 10 days.

And it's not just her that's been on the case; since the turn of the century over 50 clinical trials have tested curcumin. These various studies have since suggested that the spice can also protect against lung disease and cancers of the pancreas, colon and breast, as well as Alzheimer's, heart disease, depression and, of course, myeloma.

Turmeric root. Credit: PA
Turmeric root. Credit: PA

It's also though to help speed recovery after surgery and even treat arthritis, the Mirror reports.

Writing in BMJ Case Reports, where Ferguson's case was published,Dr Zaidi said: "Curcumin is a polyphenol derived from the perennial herb turmeric and has - for centuries - been used as a traditional Indian medicine.

"Several reports published over the two decades have claimed various health benefits of curcumin and this has led to its increasing popularity as a dietary supplement to prevent or treat a number of different diseases.

"The biological activity of curcumin is indeed remarkable."

On the blog for Hidden Art, of which Ferguson is CEO, she said: "I hope that my story will lead to more people finding out about the amazing health benefits of curcumin. I also hope that as a result of the publicity more research will be undertaken so that the curcumin may become freely available on the NHS and can help others as well."

She also thanked Airbnb, which she says has helped her pay for the curcumin.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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