Curcumin, the main ingredient of turmeric and the compound that gives curry its mustard-yellow color, inhibits metastasis to the lungs of mice with breast cancer, report researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The study reports that the spice appears to shut down a protein active in the spread of breast cancer to a major target for metastasis.
Researchers found that the nontoxic natural substance not only repelled progression of the disease to the lungs, but also appeared to reverse the effects of paclitaxel (Taxol), a commonly prescribed chemotherapy for breast cancer that may trigger spread of the disease with use over a long period of time.
Because Taxol is so toxic, it activates a protein that produces an inflammatory response that induces metastasis. Curcumin suppresses this response, making it impossible for the cancer to spread. In fact, researchers found that adding curcumin to Taxol actually enhances its effect. Curcumin breaks down the dose, making the therapy less toxic and just as powerful while delivering the same level of efficacy.
“We are excited about the results of the study and the possible implications for taking the findings into the clinic in the next several years,” says Bharat Aggarwal, PhD. “At this time, advanced breast cancer is a difficult foe to fight with few proven treatments available after surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.”
Curcumin is a member of the ginger family. While it is not used in conventional medicine, it is widely prescribed in Indian medicine as a potent remedy for liver disorders, rheumatism, diabetic wounds, runny nose, cough and sinusitis. Traditional Chinese medicine uses curcumin as a treatment for diseases associated with abdominal pain, and it is used in ancient Hindu medicine as a treatment for sprains and swelling.
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Oct 14, 2005