Curcumin is derived from the Indian spice turmeric and possesses several active components, all of which contribute to its anti-inflammatory and chemo preventive power.1-3 In fact, curcumin targets ten causative factors involved in cancer development. Disrupting any one of these factors gives you a good chance of preventing cancer; disrupting several provides even greater protection, including the prevention of DNA damage.4
By blocking the inflammatory master molecule nuclear factor-kappaB (or NF-kB), curcumin blunts cancer-causing inflammation, slashing levels of inflammatory cytokines throughout the body.5,6 Curcumin also interferes with production of dangerous advanced glycation end products that trigger inflammation which can lead to cancerous mutation.7
Curcumin alters cellular signaling to enhance healthy control over cellular replication, which tightly regulates the cellular reproductive cycle, helping to stop uncontrolled proliferation of new tissue in tumors.8 It promotes apoptosis in rapidly reproducing cancer cells without affecting healthy tissue9-11 and reins in tumor growth by making tumors more vulnerable to pharmacologic cell-killing treatments.12 In addition, curcumin regulates tumor suppressor pathways and triggers mitochondrial-mediated death in tumor tissue, thereby increasing the death of cancer cells.13]
Finally, curcumin interferes with tumor invasiveness and blocks molecules that would otherwise open pathways to penetration of tissue.2 It also helps to starve tumors of their vital blood supply and it can oppose many of the processes that permit metastases to spread.14 These multi-targeted actions are central to curcumin’s capacity to block multiple forms of cancer before they manifest.
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3. Murphy EA, Davis JM, McClellan JL, Gordon BT, Carmichael MD. Curcumin’s effect on intestinal inflamma3tion and tumorigenesis in the Apc(Min/+) Mouse. J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2010 Oct 15.
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9. Zhang J, Du Y, Wu C, et al. Curcumin promotes apoptosis in human lung adenocarcinoma cells through miR-186* signaling pathway. Oncol Rep. 2010 Nov;24(5):1217-23.
10. Zhang J, Zhang T, Ti X, et al. Curcumin promotes apoptosis in A549/DDP multidrug-resistant human lung adenocarcinoma cells through an miRNA signaling pathway. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010 Aug 13;399(1):1-6.
11. Clark CA, McEachern MD, Shah SH, et al. Curcumin inhibits carcinogen and nicotine-induced mammalian target of rapamycin pathway activation in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2010 Sep 17.
12. Cheng CY, Lin YH, Su CC. Curcumin inhibits the proliferation of human hepatocellular carcinoma J5 cells by inducing endoplasmic reticulum stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. Int J Mol Med. 2010 Nov;26(5):673-8.
13. Bar-Sela G, Epelbaum R, Schaffer M. Curcumin as an anti-cancer agent: review of the gap between basic and clinical applications. Curr Med Chem. 2010;17(3):190-7.
14. Wang L, Shen Y, Song R, Sun Y, Xu J, Xu Q. An anticancer effect of curcumin mediated by down-regulating phosphatase of regenerating liver-3 expression on highly metastatic melanoma cells. Mol Pharmacol. 2009 Dec;76(6):1238-45.