[Note: The chemical name for curcumin is diferuloylmethane. It is isolated from the curry spice turmeric. The MD Anderson Cancer Center website offers a very educational “Frequently Asked Questions About Curcumin” that highlights important info about interactions, and research pointing to curcumin’s possible supportive benefits for people with a wide variety of other conditions, from arthritis to psoriasis.]
Cancer is primarily a disease of old age, and that life style plays a major role in the development of most cancers is now well recognized. While plant-based formulations have been used to treat cancer for centuries, current treatments usually involve poisonous mustard gas, chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapies.
While traditional plant-derived medicines are safe, what are the active principles in them and how do they mediate their effects against cancer is perhaps best illustrated by curcumin, a derivative of turmeric used for centuries to treat a wide variety of inflammatory conditions.
Curcumin is a diferuloylmethane derived from the Indian spice, turmeric (popularly called “curry powder”) that has been shown to interfere with multiple cell signaling pathways, including cell cycle (cyclin D1 and cyclin E), apoptosis (activation of caspases and down-regulation of antiapoptotic gene products), proliferation (HER-2, EGFR, and AP-1), survival (PI3K/AKT pathway), invasion (MMP-9 and adhesion molecules), angiogenesis (VEGF), metastasis (CXCR-4) and inflammation (NF-kappaB, TNF, IL-6, IL-1, COX-2, and 5-LOX).
The activity of curcumin reported against leukemia and lymphoma, gastrointestinal cancers, genitourinary cancers, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, lung cancer, melanoma, neurological cancers, and sarcoma reflects its ability to affect multiple targets.
Thus an “old-age” disease such as cancer requires an “age-old” treatment.
Source: Cancer Letters, May 5, 2008. [E-pub ahead of print] PMID: 18462866 Anand P, Sundaram C, Jhurani S, Kunnumakkara AB, Aggarwal BB. Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA. [E-mail: