Can turmeric reduce joint pain during breast cancer treatment?

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center received a $50,000 grant from the Safeway Foundation to investigate the use of the South Asian spice Turmeric as a way to reduce joint pain in breast cancer patients treated with anti-estrogen drugs.

Mili Arora received $50,000 from the Safeway Foundation for her research on turmeric for pain relief in breast cancer patients.

“This gift will have a huge impact on our program,” said Mili Arora, an associate professor of hematology and oncology at UC Davis. “We thank the Safeway Foundation for supporting our efforts to help breast cancer patients live their lives as fully as possible.”

About 70% of breast cancers diagnosed are hormonally driven and treatment involves oral drugs to block estrogen. However, the drugs can cause joint pain, which is why many women don’t stay on the medication, putting them at risk of the breast cancer returning.

Turmeric, a flowering plant in the ginger family, is used by some arthritis patients who say it reduces their joint pain. The Safeway Foundation grant will help UC Davis provide turmeric in pill form in combination with oral anti-estrogen drugs. The aim is to see if the herb can successfully reduce joint pain in breast cancer patients and whether it improves their quality of life.

“It is an honor to support the work of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Every day we learn about organizations that are doing their best to help people and the cancer center is an excellent example of that,” said Wendy Gutshall, director of public affairs for Safeway.

The study will allow Dr. Arora and her team to provide breast cancer patients with important data on the safety and effectiveness of using turmeric with oral anti-estrogen therapy.

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. The specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care to more than 15,000 adults and children each year and have access to more than 150 active clinical trials at any time. The innovative research program includes more than 225 UC Davis scientists working together to advance the discovery of new tools for cancer diagnosis and treatment. Patients have access to advanced care, including immunotherapy and other targeted treatments. The Office of Community Outreach and Engagement addresses the disparities in cancer outcomes across populations, and the cancer center provides comprehensive education and staffing programs for the next generation of clinicians and scientists. For more information, visit cancer.ucdavis.edu.

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