Leukemia refers to cancers that begin in the blood-forming cells of the body. These abnormal cells grow and multiply in an uncontrolled way. As the disease progresses, leukemic cells move through the bloodstream and invade other organs, such as the spleen, lymph nodes, liver, and central nervous system. In the US, more than 30,000 new cases of leukemia are diagnosed every year, and adult onset accounts for 90 percent of the new cases (Xie Y et al 2003).
Risk factors for leukemia include advanced age, poor nutrition, previous chemotherapy and radiation treatment for other cancers, and smoking. Medical treatment for leukemia primarily revolves around chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Nutritional supplements help support the healthy function of the immune system, and in particular, the white blood cells in leukemia patients. In addition, some nutritional supplements are able to kill leukemia cells. Key examples include vitamin A, genistein from soy extract, and curcumin from turmeric.