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Curry Ingredient May Cut Cardiovascular Risks

Findings in mice show curcumin reduces heart enlargement and lowers odds of organ failure

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Curcumin, an ingredient in the curry spice tumeric, can reduce heart enlargement and may lower the risk of heart failure, Canadian researchers say.

The scientists at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre of the Toronto General Hospital tested the effects of curcumin in mice with enlarged hearts (hypertrophy) and found it could prevent and reverse the condition, restore heart function, and reduce scar formation. The study was published in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

If human clinical trials support these findings, curcumin-based treatments may provide a safe and inexpensive new option for patients with heart enlargement, according to the researchers.

They said curcumin works directly in the cell nucleus by preventing abnormal unraveling of the chromosome under stress and preventing excessive abnormal protein production.

"Curcumin's ability to shut off one of the major switches right at the chromosome source where the enlargement and scarring genes are being turned on is impressive," Dr. Peter Liu, a cardiologist at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and scientific director at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research - Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health, said in a prepared statement.

"Whether you are young or old; male or female; the larger your heart is, the higher your risk is for developing heart attacks or heart failure in the future," Liu said. "However, until clinical trials are done, we don't recommend patients to take curcumin routinely. You are better off to take action today by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, exercising, and health eating."

Current clinical trials of curcumin-based treatments for pancreatic and colorectal cancer are yielding promising results, according to the study.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about enlarged heart.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University Health Network, news release, Feb. 21, 2008

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