Curcumin

Cancer Treatment
Cancer Care Organisation by Prof.Dr. Sandeep Roy

What is Curcumin?

Curcumin is the amazing active compound that is found within the turmeric root. It has long been used as treatment in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines. It’s both antioxidant-rich and a fantastic daily supplement for promoting a healthy inflammation response in the body. To get the full benefits of curcumin however, it must come with the right support ingredients.

Anticancer Effects

There are multiple studies that suggest that curcumin has anticancer properties, but the majority of these were conducted in vitro. These studies suggest that curcumin inhibits cell proliferation and induces cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, and senescence — through various mechanisms, across multiple different types of cancer cell lines. Curcumin has been shown to decrease the expression of multiple different enzymes, transcription factors, inflammatory cytokines, growth factors, and other cell-signaling components that are important for cancer growth and progression.

For example, a consistent finding across multiple studies of different cancer cell lines is that curcumin downregulates the expression of the transcription factor NF-κB, which is commonly highly expressed by cancer cells and is known to promote the development of cancer, metastasis, and tumor growth.2 In addition, curcumin arrests the cell cycle at the G1/S or G2/M phases by inhibition of different cyclins. Curcumin also induces apoptosis through caspase-dependent pathways, and decreases the expression of antiapoptotic proteins.

Curcumin has been evaluated in animal models of different cancer types.3 These studies have generally shown that curcumin has antiproliferative effects. For example, a mouse model of colorectal cancer (CRC) that was treated by intraperitoneal injection of curcumin or vehicle control demonstrated that curcumin prolonged life and inhibited tumor growth.4 These data also suggest that curcumin upregulated the miRNA miR-130a, which decreased the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and led to prolonged survival.

Studies in animal models of breast cancer demonstrated that curcumin also downregulates NF-κB, reduces metastasis, and inhibits angiogenic signaling resulting in decreased microvessel formation.5 Animal studies of pancreatic cancer have also demonstrated that curcumin inhibits tumor growth, suppresses proliferation, and reduces angiogenesis.

Turmeric

Turmeric is promoted as an alternative cancer treatment. There is some evidence that curcumin, a substance in turmeric, can kill cancer cells in certain cancers. But we need more research.

❯ Turmeric is a spice grown in many Asian countries.
❯ Research on curcumin as a cancer treatment is ongoing.
❯ It may have side effects if taken in large amounts.

What is turmeric?

Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron, jiang huang, haridra and haldi. It is a spice grown in many Asian countries. It belongs to the ginger family and is a main ingredient of curry powder.
The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin or diferuloyl methane. Laboratory studies have shown curcumin has anti cancer effects on cancer cells.

Why people with cancer use it

Research has shown lower rates of certain cancers in countries where people eat more curcumin. This is at curcumin levels of about 100mg to 200mg a day over long periods of time.
A few laboratory studies on cancer cells have shown that curcumin has anti cancer effects. It seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It has the best effects on breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells.
At the moment there is no clear evidence in humans to show that turmeric or curcumin can prevent or treat cancer.

How you have it

Turmeric can be taken raw, as a powder, a paste or extract. It is also available as an oil.

Side effects of turmeric

It is important to remember that turmeric used in cooking is very safe. But we don't know how safe curcumin is when used for medical reasons. So far, research studies seem to show that it causes few or no side effects. But we don't know much about the side effects of taking it in large amounts to treat or prevent cancer.
People have reported stomach pain when eating too much turmeric. They have also reported skin problems when taking it for a long time. So, if you use curcumin for reasons other than cooking, talk to your doctor first.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has warned against Fortodol (also sold as Miradin). It is a turmeric-based food s
upplement. Fortodol contains the strong anti-inflammatory drug nimesulide. Nimesulide can cause severe damage to the liver.

The signs include:
❯ yellowing skin (jaundice)
❯ dark urine
❯ feeling or being sick
❯ unusual tiredness
❯ stomach or abdominal pain
❯ loss of appetite

Research into curcumin as a cancer treatment

Several studies have looked into whether curcumin could be a cancer treatment. These have had some promising results.
One of these in 2013 was an international laboratory study on bowel cancer cells. It looked at the effects of combined treatment with curcumin and chemotherapy. The researchers concluded that the combined treatment might be better than chemotherapy alone.
A problem highlighted by a number of review studies is that curcumin does not get absorbed easily. This makes it work less well as a treatment. Researchers are looking at ways of overcoming this problem.
We need more clinical trials in humans before we know how well it works as a treatment for cancer.

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