Curcumin: A Potent Weapon In The Fight Against Cancer

In today’s post, Dr. Chad Larson (DC, CCN, CSCS), Dr. Robert Corish (MD) and Dr. Susan Sharma discuss the anti-cancer properties of curcumin, which is derived from the turmeric root.

(Duration 5.30: Published January 4th 2017)

The video makes for very interesting viewing and here are some of the key points:

1) There’s an increasing interest in the therapeutic value of curcumin and this is reflected in the number of references to it on Medline; a bibliographical database of life sciences and bio-medical information. Medline contains 193 articles on turmeric and curcuminoids as topics of interest, 34 reports on curcumin’s role against cancer, 16 articles regarding curcumin as an anti-oxidant and 23 in reducing inflammation which is a major cause of cancer.

2) Turmeric shuts off the two main sources of inflammation which lead to cancer. Firstly, it inhibits nuclear factor kappa B (NF -kB): a protein complex which controls transcription of DNA, cytokine production and cell survival. ‘Blocking NF-κB can cause tumor cells to stop proliferating, to die, or to become more sensitive to the action of anti-tumor agents’. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NF-%CE%BAB).

Secondly, turmeric obstructs STAT3: a protein which plays an important role in determining whether immune responses in the tumour micro environment promote or inhibit cancer. ‘Persistently activated STAT3 and, to some extent, STAT5 increase tumour cell proliferation, survival and invasion while suppressing anti-tumour immunity’. (https://www.nature.com/articles/nrc2734)

3) Turmeric is being used to treat pancreatic and colorectal cancer as well as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The rates of both contracting breast cancer and dying from the disease are significantly higher amongst US women when compared to women in India from where turmeric is sourced and used extensively in both cooking and ayurvedic medicine.

4) The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has consistently resisted the attempts of the big pharmaceutical companies to pressurise it into reclassifying turmeric as a drug so that they can manufacture and then sell it. As turmeric is classified as a spice and thus a molecule of nature, it can’t be patented and so the FDA has refused to reclassify it.

5) When buying turmeric, the best form is either powdered or in capsules but both should be curcumin-enriched for maximum effect as only 2%-5% of curcumin is located in the turmeric root.

A very interesting study, published in the highly-regarded British Medical Journal in April 2017, details the case of a Dutch national, Dieneke Ferguson, who was diagnosed with Stage III multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer) in May 2008. Myeloma is incurable, with a median overall survival of 5.2 years from diagnosis. After undergoing three rounds of chemotherapy and four stem cell transplants with zero success and accompanied with horrendous side effects, Dieneke embarked on a regimen of high-dose curcumin with bioperine (to aid absorption) in May 2011, taking 8g on an empty stomach each evening before bedtime. A few months later, she began hyperbaric oxygen therapy and in 2016 was reported stable with no progression of the disease and a normal quality of life, even carrying the torch in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The case study states that ‘The patient continues to take oral curcumin 8g daily without further antimyeloma treatment. Over the last 60 months, her myeloma has remained stable with minimal fluctuation in paraprotein level, her blood counts lie within the normal range and she has maintained good quality of life throughout this period’. You can read the BMJ case study, ‘Long-term stabilisation of myeloma with curcumin’, here and watch the video in the side bar. (http://casereports.bmj.com/content/2017/bcr-2016-218148.full)

Look out for my next blog in which I’ll talk about the important ways to take your turmeric so that you can gain the maximum benefits from its powerful anti-cancer properties!

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