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Clinical Trials for Curcumin and Cancer Intervention Underway

Article Summary

  • Pharmaceutical drug companies have been buying supplement companies because of the therapeutic value of plants
  • Curcumin has properties that are documented by researchers to be antiinflammatory and antineoplastic (destroys plofierating harmful cells).
  • The phytochemical properties of many other plants have been documented by scientists for cancer prevention
  • Pure turmeric is generally considered safe for consumption, however, as pure as the raw ingredient may be, it’s botchy manufacturing process, even on organic supplements that pose a risk. 

A Common Household Spice is Helping to Demystify the Cancer Epidemic

The National Institute of Health based in Baltimore, USA, also home of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are currently supporting a number of trials using the antioxidant curcumin, a unique compound found in a common household spice and a staple in Indian cuisine, Turmeric. 

Turmeric is a very popular bioactive food to investigate in nutritional science because it’s had incredible, replicable, consistent results in clinical studies. I consider Tumeric to be an essential superfood that deserves it’s title. When the world becomes captivated with the trends that come and go in the supplement world, Turmeric has maintained its popularity and reputation throughout the years.

For clinical trials on this wonderful spice, I encourage taking the time to visit the NCI small database and browse through their current research papers on the therapeutic advantages of curcumin. There is a lot of important information from dedicated researchers who understand the need to safer alternatives to drug treatments with less side effects. 

You will find that curcumin is being investigated to counteract fatigue in chemotherapy patients, treating HIV infected individuals, lowering inflammation in the urinary tract in cancer patients. Tumeric is also being investigated as a preventative for gastric cancer, as it is known to potentially block the growth of enzymes needed for cancer growth.

Dietary Approaches to Cancer

This is a bold enquiry and deserves a thoughtful explanation. Conventional knowledge down at the doctor’s office, hospital or local pharmacy issued war of pharmacology vs nutrition. Believe me, there is still a lot of controversy and divide surrounding public health. 

There are countless laws controlling any therapeutic value of a plant, but supplement companies that ensure the purity of their products, a high potency and minimal processing to protect the bioactive compounds are making sure the plant holds its therapeutic value. A lot of supplement companies don’t do this and put adultured, processed and contaminated products on the market.

The burden of proving a dietary supplement is harmful rather than requiring the manufacturer prove that the supplement is safe is always on authorities, where a drug’s therapeutic claims must be studied and approved first. This is where a grey area for the effectiveness of dietary supplements and those on the market for a tumeric supplement must find reliable, trusted brands.

The executives of pharmaceutical companies offer to buy up nutritional supplement companies frequently. For example, Pfizer purchased the manufacturers of a popular supplement, Alacaer, the maker of Emergen-C. 

Proctor & Gamble, a partner of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, has also bought the supplement company New Chapter. Those business moves are worth keeping a close eye on as the divide between pharmacology and nutrition is growing smaller. It’s a rational investment to make when we have unlimited access to information to make intelligent decisions about our health. A business who buys the competition does not need to follow one narrative or the other any longer, they simply compliment each other and the public who are unaware of these moves are left in debate.

Pharmaceutical drugs have to come from somewhere and often it is the bioactive compounds from plants, the hallmark of new drug treatments. It is argued by scientists that the unprocessed, natural sources of those bioactive compounds have less side-effects, and for a good reason - a body can assimilate the plants that it genetically evolved with, with less toxic effects and immune responses. 

Curcumin is What Makes Turmeric So Potent

Curcumin has properties that are documented by researchers to be antiinflammatory and antineoplastic (destroys plofierating harmful cells). 

Prevention of cancer is just as important. Research from 2012 demonstrated that 4 grams of curcumin a day for 30 days can decrease numbers of abnormal, tube like glands hiding in the lining of the anus an the colon, the earliest warnings signs of colon cancer.

A medical journal, Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Cancer: Dietary Approaches for Cancer Prevention, reviews the current body of evidence published for curcumin to treat colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancers had notable reference to the epigenetic factors of down regulating genes that promote cancer growth. 

“Curcumin has been shown to possess inhibitory effects on histone deacetylase (HDACs), histone acetyltransferase (HATs), and more recently, DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) activity…..  We have shown that curcumin can reverse the nuclear factor erythroid 2 p45–related factor 2 (Nrf2) promoter hypermethylation in TRAMP C1 cells… Demethylation of Nrf2 was found to be associated with the reexpression of Nrf2 and one of its downstream target genes, NAD(P)H dehydrogenace quinone 1 (NQO1). We also found that treatment of LNCaP cells with curcumin reverses DNA methylation of the Neurog1 gene.”

The phytochemical properties of many other plants have been documented by scientists for cancer prevention. I conducted a personal investigated a scientific review from 2014, “Plants Against Cancer. A Review on Natural Phytochemicals in Preventing and Treating Cancers and Their Druggability,” analysing the research of bioactive phytochemicals.  

“Genistein from soybean, tea polyphenols from green tea, resveratrol from grapes, sulforaphane from broccoli, isothiocyanates from cruciferous vegetables, silymarin from milk thistle, diallyl sulfide from garlic, lycopene from tomato, rosmarinic acid from rosemary, apigenin from parsley, and gingerol from gingers, just to name a few.”

I encourage you also to have a browse through this review for further understanding. It explains in scientific terms and meticulous detail, the role of the herbs, vegetables and spices have in our personal medicine cabinets. 

“Through the extensive mechanistic studies, we have observed robust chemopreventive effects by some of the phytochemicals. As cancer chemoprevention and treatment using natural phytochemicals have been such an attractive approach, further efforts are fully justifiable to thoroughly understand their potencies, pharmacokinetic performances, pharmacodynamic responses, metabolisms, toxicities, drug-drug interactions, polymorphisms, and then formulations, stabilities and degradations, and dosage regimens. Natural dietary phytochemicals have been and will continue to be a promising and active research area in the near future.”

Toxicity and Risks to Consider for Curcumin

Pure turmeric is generally considered safe for consumption, look out for brands that add gluten containing fillers, or synthetic food colourants in case of allergic reaction. An allergic reaction from turmeric can cause symptoms such as hives, difficult breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat. Some people may experience headaches or diarrhea at high doses. It is not recommended to consume turmeric if being prescribed blood thinning medication.

Shop for Tumeric Products with Healthy Me

Pro-life Super Tumeric 60 tablets $59.90 High strength formula equivalent to 25,000 mg

Morlife Tumeric Powder 100 grams $26.00

Morlife Tumeric Latte Powder 100 grams $18.95

Morlife Tangy Tumeric Superdip Mix 28 grams $4.25 

 

References:

  1. National Cancer Institute Curcumin Clinical Trials - https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/clinical-trials/intervention/curcumin?redirect=true&fbclid=IwAR3WdjxIG_w4_fkJDIQF5BMyDLCm-u6UiXC8qBvRqjaEyD0D_zeCLyRw2Z4

  2. Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Cancer (Dietary Approaches for Cancer Prevention) || Curcumin from Turmeric Spice, Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Phytochemical, and Cancer Prevention Kong, Ah-Ng - https://www.crcpress.com/Inflammation-Oxidative-Stress-and-Cancer-Dietary-Approaches-for-Cancer/Kong/p/book/9781138199842

  3. The AAPS Journal 2009 / 09 Vol. 11; Iss. 3 Curcumin and Cancer Cells: How Many Ways Can Curry Kill Tumor Cells Selectively? Jayaraj Ravindran, Sahdeo Prasad, Bharat B. Aggarwal

  4. Phase IIa clinical trial of curcumin for the prevention of colorectal neoplasia.- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21372035

  5. Tumeric dosage and risks - https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/turmeric-side-effects#section6

 

Article by Jean Cave

Jean's wholefoods journey started early on in life to increase her well-being and sports performance. She has been researching and writing professionally on human health since 2013.
Individual views do not represent the views of NZ Nutritionals or any subsidy associated with the company. 

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