Comprehensive Cancer Center

Can turmeric reduce joint pain during breast cancer treatment?

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

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

About 70% of breast cancers diagnosed are hormonally driven and treatment includes oral drugs to block estrogen. However, the drugs can cause joint pain, which is why many women do not 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 sufferers who say it reduces their joint pain. The Safeway Foundation grant will help UC Davis test giving turmeric in a pill form in combination with oral anti-estrogen drugs. The goal is to see if the spice can successfully reduce joint pain in breast cancer patients and explore whether it improves the quality of their lives. 

“It’s an honor support the work of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Every day we learn about organizations that go above and beyond to help people and the cancer center is an excellent example,” 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.

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