Curry may help to boost the chances of fighting bowel cancer, according to researchers in the UK.

Laboratory tests suggest curcumin, a compound found in the yellow spice turmeric, can increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and has traditionally been used as an alternative remedy for a host of illnesses.

Now early test results suggest it may be able to reduce the development of bowel cancer.

The studies began after it was noticed that British Asians -- referring to Indians and Pakistanis -- were significantly less likely to develop the disease than non-Asians.

Now a two-year trial by scientists from Cancer Research UK and the University of Leicester aims to recruit for further tests about 40 patients with bowel cancer that has spread to the liver.

"We are very hopeful. You don't often see results like the ones we have had in the laboratory," chief investigator Professor Will Steward said.

"Certainly it is very, very promising and we are cautiously optimistic that we might see an improvement in outcome not just in terms of treating the cancer, making people live longer, giving people a better quality of life but also possibly reducing some of the nasty side-effects of chemotherapy."

Researchers hope that within three years they will have established once-and-for-all that one of our favorite curry ingredients is helping to prevent bowel cancer.

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