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Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Curcumin and Cancer
Curcumin’s ability to wage war on cancer stem cells further verified by research
Promising new research has demonstrated once again that the ingredient curcumin, which is the principal curcuminoid of the widely used Indian spice turmeric, a member of the ginger family, is a major cancer fighter, this time proving effective against esophageal cancer. According to researchers at the University of Kansas' Cancer Center and Medical Center, study results indicate that "curcumin inhibits the growth of esophageal cancer cell lines," though how it works "is not well understood."
The results of the study are especially noteworthy given that esophageal cancer is the eighth most common type of cancer in the world and the sixth most lethal.
This 'novel' cancer treatment works wonders
In the U.S. alone, between four and 10 persons for every 100,000 die from oesophageal cancer every year. The disease mostly strikes men over the age of 50, according to published statistics.
In 2011, the American Cancer Society estimated that 16,980 Americans (13,450 men and 3,530 women) were diagnosed with the disease. The organization also estimated that a majority of those diagnosed with oesophageal cancer - about eight in 10 - would die.
"Oesophageal adenocarcinoma, the major form of oesophageal cancer in the U.S., is the most rapidly rising cancer in the western world," said a summary of the study's results. "It is generally diagnosed at a late stage and has a poor prognosis, with a five-year survival of less than 10 percent."
"Although the current treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and, if possible, oesophagogastric resection, many patients with oesophageal adenocarcinoma experience progression of disease despite such treatment, suggesting that such tumours are resistant to standard therapy," the summary said.
Enter curcumin therapy. Other "novel" forms of treatment and therapy have not proven as effective, say researchers, especially in patients who have advanced cancer.
"The magnitude of this problem mandates the need for novel therapeutic agents, specifically the use of agents for chemoprevention. This is most attractive for oesophageal adenocarcinoma since a pre-malignant condition, Barrett's oesophagus, is a well-recognized lesion," says the summary.
In short, a common form of cancer that is resistant to current standard treatments is being bested by treatment with an age-old spice.
"Curcumin seems to have multiple molecular targets and its enhanced potency in cancer in various cancer cell lines and xenograft tumours renders it a strong candidate for therapeutic applications for oesophageal cancer as well as other cancers and inflammatory disease states," said the study.
Dramatic reductions in the spread of cancer
Previous research has also found that curcumin - and its primary element, turmeric - have been found to reduce cancer growth and brain tumours as much as 81 percent.
"Used by ancient Chinese and Indian systems of medicine, curcumin has been shown to reduce brain tumour size by 81 percent in 9 out of 11 studies," say researchers from the University of California-Los Angeles.
"Turmeric and curcumin are both extremely cheap methods of boosting your health, and are readily available almost worldwide," said Mike Barrett, co-founder of alternative health organization, Natural Society. "The ubiquitous nature of turmeric both in the form of supplementation and spice sets up turmeric to be the next vitamin D over the next few years. As more medical professionals begin to recognize the benefits of turmeric and curcumin, a major media blitz will follow as it did regarding the multiple known effects of vitamin D."
In the UCLA study, 21 participants who had contracted head and neck cancer saw the spread of their disease halted after being given chewable supplements containing 1,000 mg of curcumin each.
"Curcumin, the main component in the spice turmeric, suppresses a cell signaling pathway that drives the growth of head and neck cancer, according to a pilot study using human saliva by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center," the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, said, confirming the university's results.