CANCER PREVENTION AND TREATMENT

Carcinogens—cancer-causing-agents–belong to a diversified group of chemicals which originate from food, food contaminants, food additives, food processing agents, environmental pollutants, synthetic chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs, and cosmetics.  The development of cancer is a multi-step process involving many factors. Cancer-causing agents can either initiate or promote tumors or act as complete carcinogens having both tumor-initiating and -promoting activity.  Turmeric and  curcuminiods have been found to be cancer-preventing compounds in different tumor models as well as in limited human studies.

 As an example, supplementation of one percent turmeric in the daily diet inhibited benzopyrene-induced (benzopyrene is a highly toxic chemical in cigarette smoke which can cause stomach cancer) stomach tumors and in addition, mammary (breast) tumors in mice.  Also, feeding a water extact of turmeric inhibited stomach tumors in mice.  In another study, mice fed up to two percent curcumin in their daily diet before and after the onset of stomach cancer showed, in both instance, a reduction in the rate of tumor development of colon carcinoma  (a cancerous, malignant growth in the colon).

In clinical studies, a topical ointment containing five percent curcumin applied to cancerous growth on the skin in 62 patients was found to reduced foul smell, itching, pain and the discharge of fluid from the lesion (wound) in a significant majority of the patients.  The foul odor was considerably reduced in more than 90 percent of the patient; pain and itching subsided in 50 percent, and fluid discharge was reduced in 70 percent of the cases.  Turmeric extract alone or in combination with betel leaf extract was effective against tumors induced by powerful carcinogen (a nitrosamine derivative) in the mouth 

 Turmeric extract alone or in combination with betel leaf extract was effective against tumors induced by powerful carcinogen (a nitrosamine derivative) in the mouth mucosa of hamsters. Curcumin also inhibited the action of another potent carcinogen (a nitroquinoline derivative) in inducing tumors in the mouth mucosa of rats. In a clinical study, the effectiveness of curcumin was tested in patients with oral cancer. One hundred patients were given 500mg of curcumin three times a day for 30 days. A significant number of patients improved on the curcumin regimen and responded with dramatic clinical improvement within 15 days, while others responded more gradually throughout the 30 day treatment period.  In a laboratory study in which mice were challenged with carcinogens, curcumin not only inhibited the frequency of tumors but also reduced tumors sizes in the entire gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach, duodenum and

 In a laboratory study in which mice were challenged with carcinogens, curcumin not only inhibited the frequency of tumors but also reduced tumors sizes in the entire gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach, duodenum, and colon. Based on this and similar laboratory studies, curcumin appears to be a promising dietary agent that may improve chances against some forms of cancer. This observation is particularly important since turmeric, a rich source of curcuminoids, is a well-establish culinary item in India. The anticarcinogenic activity of turmeric extract and curcuminoids may be partly explained by their well-researched ability to prevent genetic mutation, or mutagenesis (an alteration in genetic material).

The anticarcinogenic activity of turmeric extract and curcuminoids may be partly explained by their well-researched ability to prevent genetic mutation, or mutagenesis (an alteration in genetic material). Mutation is genetic change within the “command center” of a cell which is ultimately passed on to subsequent cell generations. This altered regeneration may result in uncontrollable cell growth, as in the case of cancer. As an example of its antimutagenic properties, curcuminoids inhibited capsaicin-induced mutagenic changes in the bone marrow of the mice (bone marrow is responsible for the production of new blood cells). Mice maintained on turmeric or curcuminoid enriched diets, when challenged carcinogens, excreted low levels of mutagenic metabolites, as well as carcinogens and mutagens, could be neutralized by the action of curcuminoids.  In a clinical study, curcumin was evaluated as an antimutagen in a group of 16 chronic smokers in India.  It was given in a dose of 1.5 grams a day per person for 30 days. This regimen significantly reduced the urinary excretion of the tobacco-related mutagens (by approximately 40 percent in 30 days), probably by enhancing the ability of drug metabolizing enzymes to detoxify carcinogens and mutagens found in cigarette smoke. In addition, an aqueous extract of turmeric also inhibited the biological action of mutagens. Another important area to consider for curcuminoids properties as antimutagens and anticarcinogens is in the preparation of food. The nutritional quality of food is known to change with cooking. For example, when cooking at high temperatures, amino acids or links of protein undergo a physicochemical change called pyrolysis (literally heat induced dissolution of their “raw” structure). As a result, various food components may be converted into compounds with mutagenic, carcinogenic or diabetogenic (diabetes producing) properties.  Curcuminoids protect food composition by inhibiting the formations of mutagenic pyrolysates. These results validate the healthful practice of using turmeric as a food additive. It has also been found, as mentioned previously, that turmeric extract and curcumin can inhibit the formation of aflatoxin, a common toxin produced by mold growing on poorly preserved foods.

Another important area to consider for curcuminoids properties as antimutagens and anticarcinogens is in the preparation of food. The nutritional quality of food is known to change with cooking. For example, when cooking at high temperatures, amino acids or links of protein undergo a physicochemical change called pyrolysis (literally heat induced dissolution of their “raw” structure). As a result, various food components may be converted into compounds with mutagenic, carcinogenic or diabetogenic (diabetes producing) properties.  Curcuminoids protect food composition by inhibiting the formations of mutagenic pyrolysates. These results validate the healthful practice of using turmeric as a food additive. It has also been found, as mentioned previously, that turmeric extract and curcumin can inhibit the formation of aflatoxin, a common toxin produced by mold growing on poorly preserved foods. An excess of nitric oxide, contained in the air we breathe, and its derivatives generated in chronic inflammation, have been shown to induce DNA damage.  These compounds are also known as cancer and tumor promoters. The in vitro experiments shows that curcumin inhibits production of nitric oxide derivatives by as much as 50 percent. 

An excess of nitric oxide, contained in the air we breathe, and its derivatives generated in chronic inflammation, have been shown to induce DNA damage.  These compounds are also known as cancer and tumor promoters. The in vitro experiments shows that curcumin inhibits production of nitric oxide derivatives by as much as 50 percent. From the discussion in this and previous sections, we see that curcumin is a potent tumor inhibitor and chemopreventative agent against cancer, also exhibiting anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities.  Detailed studies have demonstrated that both curcumin and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) possess antioxidant and anticancer properties. Ascorbic acid and curcumin may, therefore, have an additive role in providing protection against cancer.

From the discussion in this and previous sections, we see that curcumin is a potent tumor inhibitor and chemopreventative agent against cancer, also exhibiting anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities.  Detailed studies have demonstrated that both curcumin and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) possess antioxidant and anticancer properties. Ascorbic acid and curcumin may, therefore, have an additive role in providing protection against cancer.

 

 

 

 

                            

 

                                                         

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