Curcumin Joins an Elite Group in Clinical Trials for Cancer Prevention
Turmeric, a Yellow curry spice used in Indian cuisine, has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine.
Curcumin is one of the most well-studied bioactive ingredients in turmeric having over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, including anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and powerful anticancer actions.
Cancer has an incredible global impact and places a vast financial and emotional burden on the families it touches. Nearly 40% of American men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and over $125-B is spent annually on medical treatment and patient care.
The American Cancer Society estimated there was over 1.6-M new cases diagnosed in Y 2017, equating to 4,630 new cases and 1,650 deaths every day. The most common types of cancer include breast, colon, lung and prostate
Despite advances in cancer treatment protocols, scientists realize prevention plays an essential role in reducing the number of people who die from the disease. And after 30 years of testing more than 1,000 different possible anticancer substances, the National Cancer Institute announced that curcumin has joined an elite group that will now be used in clinical trials for cancer and chemo-prevention.
The progression of a cell from normal growth to cancer happens through several stages.
Deregulation of physiological and mechanical processes that initiate and promote the growth of cancer cells makes use of hundreds of genes and signaling routes, making it apparent a multi-targeted approach is needed for prevention and treatment.
Research has demonstrated that curcumin has a broad range of actions as it is able to effect multiple cellular targets. Studies have found, based on the activities of curcumin in the body, the spice could be an effective method of cancer prevention, or in treatment when used in conjunction with conventional treatment protocols.
The multifaceted action of curcumin has made it useful in the treatments of several different types of diseases, including colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and amyloidosis.
Curcumin triggers a variety of actions that affect the growth, replication and death of cancer cells.
Cancer cells lose the ability to die naturally, which plays a significant role in the hyper-proliferation of cells common to cancer. Curcumin is able to turn on the apoptosis aka cell death, signaling pathway, enabling the cells to die within a natural time span.
Cancer cells thrive in an inflammatory environment.
Although short-term inflammation is beneficial for healing, long-term inflammation increases the risk of disease. Curcumin is able to block the pro-inflammatory response at several points and reduce the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the body.
The strong anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin may match the effect of some drugs.
Early in development, cancer cells learn to replicate and grow in an environment cells normally find inhospitable. Curcumin may change the signaling through several pathways, and put a stop to this replication.
Curcumin may also stop the ability of cancer stem cells from replicating and reduce the potential for recurrence after treatment. Curcumin also helps support the human immune system, capable of seeking out and destroying early cancer cells naturally.
Some of the same ways that curcumin works in in the body are the processes used to enhance cancer treatments and chemotherapy.
While some chemotherapy has been developed to target specific cells, most therapy drugs are nonspecific and affect all cells in the body. Some studies in the past decade have demonstrated exciting potential for curcumin in the fight against cancer.
In addition to changes to cells mentioned above, researchers have found curcumin may help protect the body against the damage caused from chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and it may enhance the effect of these same treatments, making them more effective.
These effects have been demonstrated in animal models treating head and neck tumors, and in culture of human breast, esophageal and colon cancers.
Patients treated for chronic myeloid leukemia with chemotherapy exhibited a reduction in cancer growth factor when curcumin was added to the treatment protocol, potentially improving the results of the chemotherapy over being used alone.
Protection against radiation therapy was demonstrated in a study using breast cancer patients receiving radiation therapy. At the end of the study those taking curcumin had less radiation damage to their skin.
Curcumin has also been effective against angiogenesis in tumors, or the growth of new blood vessels to feed the overgrowth of cancer cells, and against metastasis.
Curcumin is able to affect cancer cells through multiple pathways and has fulfilled the traits for an ideal cancer prevention agent as it has low toxicity, is affordable and is easily accessible.
Curcumin offers additional benefits to our health.
It may work as well as some anti-inflammatory medications to treat arthritic conditions. In combination with aerobic exercise, curcumin was found to improve endothelial cell function in postmenopausal women, and was also found to ameliorate arterial dysfunction and oxidative stress in the elderly.
Disease processes may increase oxidative stress and free radical formation in the body. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant, but also may boost the function of your body’s own antioxidant enzymes.
The brain can develop new connections powered by brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Reduced levels of this hormone may be linked to depression and Alzheimer’s disease. However, curcumin can increase the levels of BDNF and effectively reduce your potential for suffering from age-related reduction in brain function.
Researchers have also discovered that curcumin has an effect on several pathways in your body that may reverse insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia and other symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome and obesity. The reduced potential for metabolic syndrome and obesity is related to the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin, which may also have an effect on heart disease, atherosclerosis and Type 2 diabetes.
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