Currying Favor Against Cancer

Prostate and breast cancer metastasis may be inhibited with curcumin

(RxWiki News) Turmeric is the pungent, pumpkin colored spice that gives curry its distinctive color and taste. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric that has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.

Curcumin may be helpful in preventing prostate and breast cancer from spreading (metastasis).

"Tell your doctor about the supplements you’re taking."

Researchers, led by PD Dr. Beatrice Bachmeier at LMU Munich, have been studying how this natural compound works to block or inhibit metastasis.

Dr. Bachmeier and colleagues have shown that curcumin helped to inhibit advanced breast cancer in mice from spreading to the lungs.

For this study, researchers aimed to find out how curcumin works to block prostate cancer from roaming to different sites.

The team focused on the molecules that are functioning improperly in prostate cancer.

Both breast and prostate cancers are closely aligned with inflammation. The tumors in both cancers produce proteins called cytokines that promote inflammation.

The German scientists learned that curcumin decreases the appearance and expression of cytokines, which was associated with a decline in metastasis.

“Due to the action of curcumin, the tumor cells synthesize smaller amounts of cytokines that promote metastasis,” says Bachmeier.

“As a consequence, the frequency of metastasis formation in the lungs is significantly reduced, in animals with breast cancer, as we showed previously, or carcinoma of the prostate as demonstrated in our new study.”

She concluded that curcumin, because it’s well tolerated, may be safely recommended to help prevent the formation of original “before a full-blown tumor arises – or help to avert formation of metastases.”

People with elevated cancer risks, including men who have benign hyperplasia of the prostate (BHP) and women who have a family history of breast cancer, may benefit.

"There may be some merit in the beneficial effects if curcumin on preventing cancer metastases and can be a useful herbal supplementation for cancer patients,” Diane Shiao, PT, MSPT, DPT, fitness and Chinese medicine expert, told dailyRx.

“However, curcumin is suggested as a supplementation and not a substitute for the regular course of cancer treatment. Before taking this herb, please consult your physician or oncologist,” Shiao said.

To confirm these findings, Dr. Bachmeier is planning a clinical trial with men who have prostate cancer that’s no longer responding to therapy.

This study was published October 3 in the journal Carcinogenesis.

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Review Date: 
October 14, 2012