Why curcumin is cancer’s worst enemy By Isabelle Z. for Turmeric News
When you think of fighting cancer, what comes to mind? Many people’s first thought is chemotherapy as it’s one of the most common treatments used for the disease today, despite carrying a host of side effects and an efficacy rate that leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, a new word is poised to become synonymous with cancer treatment: curcumin.
Curcumin, a component found in turmeric, might be a relatively new area of research in Western medicine, but it’s been a valued treatment in Asian medicine for centuries. You have probably heard that a lot of different foods can help fight cancer, but what makes curcumin outshine the others is the fact that it uses multiple mechanisms to fight the disease, reversing more than half a dozen processes that promote cancer. Not only does it help prevent it; it can also help treat it.
Because cancer develops with the help of several factors, a multi-tiered approach is the most comprehensive way to stop it in its tracks. Curcumin is able to reduce tumor progression in every stage of development, making it one of the most effective natural anti-cancer compounds available right now. According to Cancer Research U.K., some of the cancer types it has the best effects on are stomach, skin, breast and bowel cancers.
For example, a study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found a 36 percent decrease in the size of human lung tumors thanks to curcumin supplements. A different study in the journal Nutrition Research found that animals had a 40 percent reduction in colon tumor development when they took curcumin supplements.
One way it helps is by reducing the activity of receptors that promote the growth of tumors. It can decrease the number of new blood vessels that are formed by tumors, essentially starving them of the blood they need to thrive. It can also restore normal programmed cell death. In addition, curcumin prevents DNA damage from radiation and other toxins.
Any of those powers would be great on their own, but curcumin also can decrease the ability of cancer to metastasize. It does this by reducing the production of the adhesion molecules tumors need to stick themselves to vessel walls. It also helps cancer cells move along these walls more quickly to lower the chances they’ll settle in place and take over.
It can even help to enhance chemotherapy for those who choose to combine the natural and conventional treatment routes. It’s believed to sensitize cancer stem cells, which means that chemotherapy drugs can be more effective on them. It is these stem cells that can hang around within the system even after tumors have been killed and lead to recurrences later on, so getting rid of them is a game-changer.
What is the best way to get turmeric’s anti-cancer benefits?
With all of these terrific benefits, you might be tempted to start adding more turmeric to your food right away. While this certainly won’t hurt, it’s important to keep in mind that curcumin is generally poorly absorbed by the body. That’s why many people are choosing to get curcumin’s benefits from an organic turmeric extract or supplement. These are often formulated with piperine, a compound in black pepper that helps boost curcumin’s bioavailability to the body. Similarly, adding a pinch of black pepper to anything you cook with turmeric will increase your ability to absorb it, although it still won’t be in amounts that rival those you could get from an extract or supplement.
It’s clear that curcumin has incredible potential when it comes to fighting one of the deadliest diseases of our time. Is it any surprise that countries where people tend to eat more curcumin have lower rates of cancer?
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