Prized for centuries in Asian medicine, the Western world is now recognizing the incredible health benefits associated with curcumin – a component of the spice turmeric. In fact, an ever-growing number of studies are showing it could play a significant role in slowing and preventing the growth of cancerous tumors.
Scientists believe this natural compound works in a way that reverses more than a half dozen known cancer-promoting processes. These actions give curcumin multiple mechanisms for fighting tumor growth from the earliest stages of development.
Research shows curcumin can destroy deadly cancer tumors
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.
Laboratory and animal research suggests that curcumin may prevent cancer, slow its spread, make even conventional cancer treatments more effective and protect healthy cells from deadly damage by radiation therapy. A growing volume of scientific literature reveals curcumin’s ability to treat and prevent cancer.
In a study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, animal studies showed a 36 percent reduction in the size of human lung tumors when supplemented with curcumin compared with animals in the control group. They also saw a 3-fold increased survival rate.
In another study published in Nutrition Research, lab animals showed a 40 percent decrease in development of colon tumors when fed a diet that included supplementation with curcumin. These results are supported by an animal model of colon cancer where supplementation with curcumin improved survival rate and colon health by completely eliminating cancerous tumors.
In a similar study published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology, human prostate cancer showed significant reductions in tumor weight and volume after 30 days of supplementation with curcumin in lab animals.
Battling cancerous tumors on numerous fronts with a multi-faceted approach
Cancer is known to develop via a multifactorial process, which is why single-tier approaches remain ineffective in stopping the development of this complex disease. But supplementation with curcumin provides multilayered protection known to lessen progression of tumors during all stages of development.
Its multi-pronged approach makes curcumin one of the most powerful natural compounds available for preventing and treating cancer, including some of the most difficult to treat tumors. One of the telltale signs of tumor growth is rapid, poorly differentiated blood vessel formation. Curcumin has been found to reduce the number of new blood vessels formed by tumors.
It also works by reducing activity of certain receptors that are known to promote tumor growth. In animal studies involving prostate cancer, it was also noted the curcumin cut in half the growth rate of prostate-specific antigen, a marker of tumor progression.
Curcumin has also been noted as preventing DNA damage due to radiation, toxins and other environmental factors. It also works on several fronts to restore normalcy to cell growth, including restoration of normal growth controls, reducing viability of malignant cells, switching off genes that promote tumor development and restoration of normal programmed cell death, to name but a few.
It is also believed the curcumin works with the body’s natural immune system to improve identification and subsequent destruction of malignant cells. It blocks so-called protein-melting enzyme actions known to lead to malignant growth.
But its abilities to slow cancer growth don’t stop there. Research shows curcumin also greatly decreased the ability of existing cancer to metastasize by reducing production of adhesion molecules used to stick to vessel walls. Related to this action, it also speeds up the movement of cancer cells along vessel walls to keep them from settling in place and forming mature metastases.
For those choosing to treat their cancer through a combined approach of natural and conventional treatments, there is even some evidence that curcumin may sensitize cancer stem cells, making them more susceptible to the action of chemotherapy drugs.
One of the shortcomings of conventional cancer treatment is that it has focused primarily on the existing tumor, while cancer stem cells remained intact long after the tumor had been killed, only to resurface with a recurrence of cancer down the road. But science has shown that curcumin actually decreases cancer stem cell survival and makes them more susceptible to destruction by chemotherapy.
Accessing the benefits of curcumin for therapeutic purposes
While the spice turmeric may be readily available, just upping the amount you use in cooking will not deliver therapeutic amounts of curcumin to your system. In fact, it is known that curcumin is poorly absorbed.
The easiest alternative is to opt for a very high-quality organic turmeric extract. Look for a high percentage of curcumin, preferably around 95 percent. Typical anticancer doses are a maximum of 3 grams of bioavailable curcumin extract, taken three to four times daily.