Cancer is a disease that attacks a person and kills them mercilessly. Even though medical science has made a lot of advancements in treating cancer all of these treatments seem to be accompanied by side effects. In this article, Dr. Nita Sharma Das, explains the role of curcumin in treating and preventing the occurrence of cancer.
Almost two centuries ago, Vogel and Pelletier- the Harvard College laboratory scientists discovered Curcumin during a study conducted on the rhizomes of turmeric. In their study they understood that turmeric, which is scientifically known as Curcuma longa has about 2- 5% of Curcumin present in it as an active ingredient. As of now numerous studies have been conducted to discover the various health benefits, including anti-cancer properties of Curcumin. Studies have revealed that treating cancer using Curcumin is a natural and non-toxic alternative therapy.
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery are some of the conventional therapies used to treat cancer. These treatments maynot be able to treat all kinds of cancer especially that the lungs, pancreas, liver, bones and in an advanced stage of breast and colon cancer. Also, these medical advancements cannot provide complete protection against cancer.
Curcumin, the active ingredients in turmeric provides a wide range of cancer-preventive action due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative and anti-angiogenic properties. Different study results describe that Curcumin is effective in providing the inhibitory effects on almost every type of tumor and carcinogenic cells, including reproductive cancers, digestive cancer, lymphatic cancer, urinary cancer, pulmonary cancer, cancer in the nervous system, skeletal systems, and the skin. It also boosts the body’s immune system activity.
How can Curcumin treat or prevent cancer?
Tumor progression is a primary triggering factor of cancer. A malignant tumor is usually aggressive in nature and progression of the malignancy can clinically lead to cancer development. Curcumin can hold back the development, progression, advancement, and metastasis of multiple tumors. These anti-cancer effects are primarily prevailing due to its down-regulating effect on various growth factors, transcription factors, protein kinases, inflammatory cytokines, and other oncogenic molecules. Curcumin also arrests different cell cycle specific phases by initiating apoptosis on the cancer cell. Thus, it restrains the cancer cells proliferation. Overall curcumin is effective to suppress tumor growth by inactivating pro-inflammatory transcription factors like NF-κB (Nuclear Factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells), phospho-STAT-3 (Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3), etc .and provides cancer preventive effect.
Following scientific evidence showed the anticancer and cancer preventive effect of curcumin:
- Curcumin present in turmeric, when combined with other chemotherapeutic agents provides an improved approach against breast cancer, colorectal cancer, leukemia and lymphoma, lung cancer, oral cancer, and cervical cancer.
- According to a trial conducted at the University of Rochester, curcumin reduces radiation-induced dermatitis in breast cancer patients and thus decreases adverse effects of cancer therapy.
- Cancer stem cells provide deleterious effect against chemotherapeutic agents and cause drug resistance. But recent study result showed curcumin targets breast cancer stem cells and the addition of curcumin supplementation or turmeric with other chemotherapeutic agents may prevent drug resistance.
- Curcumin potentially acts against malignant brain tumor prognosis.
- Topical application of curcumin in external cancerous lesion has shown significant symptomatic relief, administration of which includes reduction of itching, the size of the lesion, and pain.
- Several studies provided evidence that curcumin, either alone or in combination with other agents, can fight against potentially active breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, oral cancer, lung cancer, multiple myelomas, and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
Curcumin as cancer adjuvant therapy
Cancer patients are often unable to tolerate a high dose of chemotherapeutic agent due to their side effects. But the addition of curcumin as an adjuvant therapy with a lower dose of routine chemotherapy is tolerable. Evidence from research study showed that a lower dose of the chemotherapeutic agent with curcumin was able to provide the same treatment efficacy. This means the addition of curcumin in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents can reduce the risk of severe side-effects. Therefore, curcumin is not only effective as an anticancer agent in single therapy but can act as cancer adjuvant therapy. A research study showed that a combination of curcumin and cisplatin therapy markedly decreased cancer growth. In this case, curcumin inhibits NF-κB activity. Moreover, the curcumin also provides a synergistic effect with radiation therapy; because this herbal product arrests the cell cycle and suppresses its growth.
Suggested Dose of Curcumin
Highly absorbable curcumin formulation can be provided at 400 milligrams daily with food. Curcumin has a small shelf-life and poor water solubility and this causes lower bio-availability in systemic circulation and tissues. The bio-availability of Curcumin is increased by combining it with Piperine from black pepper.
Dr. Nita Sharma Das
Dr. Nita is a Doctor of Naturopathy and did her PhD in Alternative Medicine. Dr. Nita believes in the concept of removing the cause of the disease rather to treat only the symptoms. Herbal medicine and Nutraceutical are her specialization and area of research. She has regular publications in renowned national and international magazines for various disease profiles and treatment options, home remedies, health fitness regime, herbal medicines and wellbeing.