Laboratory and animal research suggests that curcumin may prevent cancer, slow the spread of cancer, make chemotherapy more effective and protect healthy cells from damage by radiation therapy.
Curcumin is a substance found in the spice turmeric. Curcumin has long been used in Asian medicine to treat a variety of illnesses. Now some research suggests that curcumin may help prevent or treat cancer.
Curcumin is thought to have antioxidant properties, which means it may decrease swelling and inflammation. It's being explored as a cancer treatment in part because inflammation appears to play a role in cancer.
One way that curcumin is thought to work is by lowering levels of inflammation in the body.
Research has also looked at turmeric, which contains curcumin, as a way of preventing cancer. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, rats exposed to cancer-causing substances and then treated with turmeric didn’t develop stomach, colon, or skin cancers.
A study on people with colorectal cancer found it may help slow the disease’s progression. Another found taking it daily may lower the chance of cancer in people who are at high risk of it.
Studies have suggested that curcumin can inhibit enzymes such as cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), which are important for regulating inflammatory processes in the body. Abnormal levels of COX-2 or iNOS are associated with inflammatory disorders and certain cancers.
A 2009 study found that curcumin can kill many types of cancer cells in multiple ways. Because more than one method is possible, cancer cells are less likely to become curcumin-resistant. Curcumin targets only cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unaffected. This is an important step in potential treatment because chemotherapy drugs kill both healthy cells and cancer cells.
There are clinical trials testing curcumin in people with cancer. Preliminary findings from one show it can help lower levels of a protein that is a key prostate cancer sign. Other studies have tested whether it can help chemotherapy work better in people with advanced pancreatic or colorectal cancers.
Other research reveals that adding curcumin to a chemotherapy regimen might make the treatment more effective. A study published in the journal PLoS One looked at the effects of curcumin and chemotherapy in a laboratory study on bowel cancer cells. The scientists found that the combined treatment was better than chemo alone.
Turmeric may also protect healthy cells from damage caused by radiation therapy. In a study published in Radiation Research , scientists observed the effects of curcumin in 30 patients with breast cancer. They found that 6 g of oral curcumin taken daily during radiotherapy reduced the severity of radiation dermatitis (damage to the outer layers of the skin caused by radiation).
With Bioperine in Mighty Turmeric's formula, the absorption rate has increased at least 2000 times. The widely available supplement is meant to deliver higher levels of curcumin to people with cancer without increased harm.
Some research has shown curcumin is safe to take at doses as high as 12 g per day over three months.
Learn more about the power of curcumin here.