Feedback from dietitians: kidneys/turmeric - My Ovacome

My Ovacome

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Feedback from dietitians: kidneys/turmeric


Dear All

I have had some feedback from dietitians regarding some questions that came up on the forum. Rachel Bracegirdle and Rachel White are specialist oncology dietitians at Guys and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and they have kindly agreed to sit on our medical advisory board and help with questions that arise. They'll also be giving a talk at our Health and Wellbeing Day in September.

thomas62 Welshandproud Biscuitqueen asked for more information on the oestrogen-like effect of turmeric. I'm so sorry for the time it's taken me to answer this, I was trying to get the information from elsewhere, thankfully Rachel and Rachel have been able to help! Here is their answer:

What evidence (article references) is there for the oestrogenic effects of turmeric?

Turmeric is a spice which has been used in cooking for many years. The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Overall research into turmeric and cancer is inconclusive. Some studies suggest a theoretical potential for curcumin to be anti-oestrogenic (1,2), however others have shown that high doses appear to be oestrogenic (3). All of these studies are laboratory studies and therefore don't necessarily represent what will happen in the human body.

There isn't currently enough evidence to recommend taking turmeric supplements. If you decide you want to take a supplement then it is very important to check with your oncology team as there is evidence of interactions with some treatments and medications. It is therefore possible the risks may outweigh any potential benefits.

It is important to remember that turmeric used in cooking is very safe. We would recommend using it in cooking as part of a meal as part of a balanced diet. As turmeric is fat soluble it is better absorbed as part of a meal.

More information on turmeric can be found at:


1. Folwarczna J, Zych M, Treciak HI ‘Effect of Curcumin on the skeletal system in rats.’ (2010) Pharmacol Rep

2. Hallman K, Aleck K, Dwyer B, Lloyd V, Quigley M, Sitto N, Siebart A, Dinda S ‘The effects of turmeric on tumor suppressor protein (p53) and estrogen receptor in breast cancer cells’ (2017) Breast cancer targets and therapy 9: 153-161

3. Murphy CJ, Tang H, Van Kirk EA, Shen Y, Murdoch WJ ‘Reproductive effects of pegylated curcumin’ (2012) Reprod Toxicol 34 (1): 120-4

Secondly, Neona asked about diet to help kidneys damaged by cancer. Rachel and Rachel's response is as follows:

Any dietary recommendations will be dependent on the level of kidney damage. Your oncology team will advise you individually if you need to follow any specific dietary recommendations. If required, a dietitian can support you with individual dietary advice. Hydration is important to keep the kidneys working well, you should be aiming for 2 litres per day (6-8 glasses), unless you have been given specific advice. We recommend following a healthy balanced diet unless there are problems with reduced appetite or unintentional weight loss.

More information on a healthy balanced diet can be found on the World Cancer Research Fund website.

I hope this is helpful. Do get in touch with me if you have any queries.

Best wishes


Ovacome Support Service Manager

8 Replies

I was really interested by this but not surprised by the inconclusive conclusion. Every health professional I have asked has dismissed the use of turmeric. I took turmeric capsules, I already use it a lot in cooking, and still recurred.

However there must be some naturally occurring remedy that could provide a treatment base for mutant cells. So what are we missing?


It might be worth speaking with Penny Brohn Anna- they have a holistic approach and a lot of great information about food. I did one of their short courses and it was facinating to learn how to add more things to dishes to maximise the nutrition. The cafe there serves the most amazing food and if any one lives near Bristol, you can book and have a delicious and interesting lunch and a wander in the gorgeous gardens too! If I lived nearer, I would be a regular.

From the depths of my memory, there was a key point about any benefit from tumeric needing black pepper with it... (it would make a curry taste better too!)


OvacomeSupportAdministrator in reply to Sunfleury-UK

Hello Sunfleury

I visited Penny Brohn to get to know their service a bit better as I often suggest people contact them, and completely agree the food was wonderful and the grounds beautiful!

They've kindly agreed to write something for one of our newsletters soon - it won't be in the one that's just about to come out but hopefully in the following one or so. I'll let our PR person who organises the newsletter that it would be helpful if they covered turmeric too (I'd asked if they could write about phyto-oestrogens).

Best wishes



from the depths of my memory: black pepper AND oil

Thanks Anna. I am seeing many women on this site saying how wonderful you are and I wholeheartedly agree.

Yes, black pepper and eg coconut oil added so curcumin/tumeric can cross the blood/brain barrier, ie 1000 whatever times more effective. Just a comment that all my medical team here in Australia just say, NO, you can't take anything while on chemo. I did that on frontline and started supplements/vitamins a month after I finished chemo, Now on 1st recurrence, I check everything on Sloane Kettering Memorial Cancer Centre hospital site USA online and if they say no, I don't! Its a great site to check safety of herbs etc with chemo. Unfortunately they don't do Chinese medicine so have stopped that for now. Hugs from Australia.

Many thanks for this. In case it is of interest I took turmeric supplements for about 3 years before I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I took turmeric to help with tennis elbow as I didn't want a steroid injection and I thought that it made quite a difference over a long time. However it certainly did nothing to stop me getting ovarian cancer.

bluepeterella in reply to Neona

Useful to hear!


This strongly suggests not taking it in supplement form, but taking the real thing.

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