WEDNESDAY, April 5, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Ordinary ginger causes ovarian cancer cells to die, highlighting the spice's potential in fighting the killer disease, a new study found.
Not only did ginger trigger ovarian cancer cell death, it did so in a way that may prevent tumor cells from becoming resistant to treatment, a common problem with chemotherapy.
The preliminary findings from researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center were presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.
The Michigan team dissolved ginger powder in a solution and applied it to ovarian cancer cells in a laboratory. Ginger caused two kinds of cancer cell death. The first is called apoptosis, in which the cells essentially commit suicide. The second type of cell death is autophagy, in which cells digest or attack themselves.
"Most ovarian cancer patients develop recurrent disease that eventually becomes resistant to standard chemotherapy -- which is associated with resistance to apoptosis. If ginger can cause autophagic cell death in addition to apoptosis, it may circumvent resistance to conventional chemotherapy," study author Dr. J. Rebecca Liu, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, explained in a prepared statement.
The researchers' next step is to determine if ginger can achieve similar results in animals.
It's already known that ginger helps control inflammation, which contributes to the development of ovarian cancer cells. By halting inflammation, ginger may stop cancer cells from growing, the researchers suggested.
The American Cancer Society has more about ovarian cancer treatments.