Decades of toxic cancer treatments that destroy cancer cells, and healthy cells may soon be replaced by cancer therapies that work better by using natural nutrients like turmeric curcumin. This proposition stemmed from the scientific review of a research by world-renowned cancer research University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, a pioneer in preclinical research on anticancer effects of curcumin.
In a related development, Medical Express cited an international review of previous clinical trials reporting that curcumin is more effective as cancer treatment. It is a multi-targeting agent, able to combat numerous genes that have mutated in cancer. The report said further that curcumin may be the only drug taken in high dosage (up to 12 grams) without any indication of toxicity.
Unlike obnoxious chemotherapeutic agents in cancer treatments, substances or nutrients like turmeric curcumin appear to have innate intelligence to differentiate between tumor cells and normal cells, and strike powerfully to kill tumor cells. Turmeric curcumin’s dexterity to kill cancer cells — and spare healthy cells — becomes an intriguingly intense research issue in the medical community.
Furthermore, nutrients such as curcumin support the survival of good cells and increase the tolerance of cells against stress. No existing chemotherapy drugs promote healthy cell survival. In fact, new biological medicines applied in therapies are gene killing agents.
Conversely, chemotherapeutic agents are very expensive and not an affordable option for most patients. Besides, such highly toxic agents cannot be utilized in cancer prevention. Even worse, they produce harmful, and fatal, side effects.
Before we go any further, let’s define what turmeric curcumin means. It is a combination of turmeric, a favorite spice in South Asia that adds color and zest to the flavor of curry, and curcumin, a medicinal compound, antioxidant and cancer-killer nutrient of turmeric. Turmeric curcumin is sold as a food supplement and available in extra strength in capsules.
Cancer is medically described as a malignant neoplasm, a group of many diseases that make rapid production and proliferation of abnormal cells. Cancerous cells grow, and divide uncontrollably in the form of tumors and spread in other parts of the body (metastasis). Failure to seek treatment may result to organ failures, and death. A host of external factors contribute to the disease, including lifestyle, diet, virus and pollution. Internal factors may include genetic, hormonal or immunity disorders. Radiation, surgery and chemotherapy are common treatment therapies.
Cancer ranks as the second-leading cause of death, next to heart disease in the U.S., alone. Seventy-eight percent of diagnoses on cancer are attributed to individuals 55 years old and older. Risk for cancer is higher in percentage in men than in women. In 2011, the total cost of healthcare for cancer was $88.7 Billion.
Curcumin effect on cells
Curcumin has been observed to show differentiation effects on normal cells. The reason why it kills tumor cells defies understanding, but a few reasons were obvious. First, the absorption of curcumin is greater in tumor cells. Second, the glutathione levels are lower in tumor cells. And, third, most of the tumor cells signal gene NF-kB, and moderate their survival.
Curcumin alters epigenetic signals by suppressing NF-kB expression thus constricting the proliferation and survival of tumor cells and support healthy cells.
Mechanisms of Cell Death
Curcumin acts upon many biochemical and molecular signaling pathways to access various arrays of targets. It can physically bind up to 33 distinct protein, including thioredoxin reductase, COX2, protein kinase C, 5-LOX and tubulin, among others. Molecular targets regulated by curcumin include growth factors, transcription factors and receptors, cytokines, enzymes and genes controlling cell proliferation and apoptosis (cell death) of tumor cells. Studies suggest that cell death is induced by curcumin through the activation of cell death receptors, and suppression of growth and proliferation pathways, leading to apoptosis of cancer cells.
Nevertheless, as a fat-soluble substance, curcumin is not easily absorbed by the body. In order to obtain the optimal benefits from the nutrient, Piperine, another natural ingredient from black pepper comes to the rescue. Piperine, helps absorb curcumin and other nutrients quickly and effectively and can be found in Bioperine, a patented food supplement.
In the increasing proliferation and burden of cancer, curcumin promises to be a safe, effective, natural, and affordable chemotherapeutic agent. More notably, in the shifting paradigm of cancer therapy, curcumin has a very important role in cancer diagnosis, prevention and treatment that affects the health of billions in the planet.
By: Janet Grace Ortigas