In the research, patients with pre-cancerous polyps in the colon who took a pill containing a combination of curcumin, which is found in the curry spice turmeric, and quercetin, an antioxidant found in onions, experienced a marked reduction in both the size and number of polyps.
"We believe this is the first proof of principle that these substances have significant effects in patients with FAP [familial adenomatous polyposis]," said Dr Francis M. Giardiello, of The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.
The condition is an inherited disorder characterised by the development of colorectal polyps and, eventually, colon cancer.
In their study, Giardiello's team gave five patients with the disorder, who had five or more polyps in their lower-intestinal tract, 480 milligrams of curcumin and 20 mgs of quercetin three times daily.
The average number of polyps dropped by 60 per cent, and the average size dropped by 51 per cent during an average time of six months, the team reports in the medical journal, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Side effects among the patients were reported as "minimal", but I for one would like to know what they were.