Curcumin has long been known for its medical properties, but you probably know it from the spice aisle. Curcumin is the active chemical constituent of turmeric, the bright yellow spice that is commonly used in curries and stews. It is derived from the roots of the plant Curcuma longa, and its use as a healing compound dates back over five thousand years, to the early practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine in India. Physicians and researchers have been fascinated by the healing potential of curcumin for centuries, and it continues to be a topic of discussion within the scientific community today, especially among those who study cancer. A research review published in July 2017 in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Care Research has highlighted some of the latest discoveries on how curcumin can assist in both the treatment and the prevention of breast cancer.
Scope and Content of the Newly Published Review Paper
In the review paper, “Curcumin: The Spicy Modulator of Breast Cancer Carcinogenesis,” scientists from the Universiti Sains Malaysia make the case that curcumin can be a valuable component of breast cancer treatment and prevention strategies. They support this conclusion by citing evidence from a wide range rigorous scientific studies. The acquisition and development of breast cancer is a multi-step process, and the authors point out that curcumin targets multiple steps in this process, making it a particularly effective therapy. Here are some of the benefits of curcumin that were highlighted in the study:
- Curcumin prevents breast cancer cell growth by modulating multiple cell signaling pathways. Specifically, it can prevent cancer cells from dividing by regulating the cell cycle, it can induce breast cancer cell aging, and it can even initiate spontaneous breast cancer cell death. Importantly, curcumin has these effects on cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.
- Curcumin prevents cancer from spreading by blocking angiogenesis, the process by which breast cancer tumor cells recruit the oxygen and nutrients they need in order to grow, proliferate, and invade other tissues.
- Curcumin prevents inflammation that promotes cancer. Chronic inflammation has both direct and indirect effects on the initiation and development processes of cancer, and curcumin has long been known to have anti-inflammatory properties. For instance, curcumin can help scavenge free radicals that damage DNA and promote carcinogenesis, and it can suppress the release of cell growth-related proteins that enable breast cancer cells to proliferate unchecked.
- Curcumin inhibits the propagation of breast cancer stem cells (bCSCs), which are involved in the initiation and propagation of breast cancer. New research in this area has made curcumin an increasingly appealing treatment option for women who have a high risk of developing breast cancer.
- Curcumin can modulate the activity of cancer related micro RNAs (miRNAs). Micro RNAs are factors within the cell that regulate gene expression, and their normal activity is disrupted in cancer cells. Curcumin can exert anti-cancer effects by modulating miRNAs.
Based on the many studies that provide evidence for the anti-cancer properties of curcumin, the authors concluded that curcumin can be clinically effective for both the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
Getting the Clinical Trials Process Underway
Although it will take years for curcumin to be recognized as an official treatment option for breast cancer patients, early clinical trials have yielded positive results. For example, a phase I clinical trial was conducted in France in 2010. The primary goal of the researchers was to determine the maximum tolerated dosage of curcumin for patients who were receiving docetaxel chemotherapy for breast cancer. The secondary objectives were to evaluate the safety and efficacy of curcumin for treating breast cancer. Not only did the scientists successfully identify an acceptable dosage of curcumin, but they also reported “encouraging efficacy results” — which means that they were able to observe the anti-cancer effects of the treatment in their patients. Thus, they planned a more rigorous phase II trial on the clinical effectiveness of curcumin for the future.
What the Research Means for You
The scientific studies linking curcumin and breast cancer are certainly interesting — but they can also prompt you to take action for your health. If you have a high risk of breast cancer, you may want to consider taking a curcumin supplement. If you already have breast cancer and are receiving chemotherapy treatment, you can talk to your medical team about adding a curcumin supplement to your nutrition plan.
Whether or not you have a family history of breast cancer, you should also monitor your breast health regularly if you are over the age of 40. The earlier you catch breast cancer, the more likely that any treatment — including chemotherapy and curcumin nutritional supplementation — will be successful. A great option for women who don’t want to have to go through a mammogram is breast thermography. Breast thermography is a non-invasive option that is highly accurate, pain-free, and doesn’t require exposure to damaging radiation — perfect for women who are concerned about their long-term breast health.
Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers Curcupro CR, a curcumin supplement that can help with the prevention and treatment of a wide range of medical conditions, including breast cancer. We also provide breast thermography services. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!