Cancer arouses more fear in the human heart than any other disease. The dread is well placed, even though cancer is not the #1 killer in the western world
Every year, more than 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer, not including skin cancers, which are far the most common cancers. Skin cancers, afflict 2 million more people every year. Each year, 569,000 of us will die of cancer.
There is probably not a single one of doesn't know someone who has had cancer and who has personally been touched by the pain and suffering of this dreaded disease.
While most of think that cancer is an inherent disease, science shows us that fewer than 2% of all cancer is related to genetics (broken or mutated genes).
That means 98% of cancer is caused by something else. That "something else" has opened a whole new science call epigenetics, meaning literally "above genetics"
The good news is that we have far more control over our epigenetics than genetics. Renowned scientist Ajay Goel, Ph.D., of Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Laboratory at the Baylor Research Institute at Dallas, is at the forefront of epigenetics research.
He explains a complex science in simple terms: "Everything we do from the day we are born, everything we eat, drink and are exposed to in our environment has an indirect but strong influence on our genetics. As we age and grow, it is very natural that some of the genes tend to get turned off as a consequence of our eating habits, exercise regimens and exposure to toxic environmental stresses. Doing the right thing in this regard can help us keep our genes healthy".
So, when we don't eat correctly or exercise and are exposed to toxins, damage to genes takes place and disease occurs. "Fortunately, unlike genetic defects, epigenetic alterations have a unique characteristic that these changes are reversible," says Dr. Goel.
"In other words, although we can do nothing if we were born with a defective gene, it is certainly within our reach to keep our genomes healthy and we can even reverse some of the epigenetic changes by eating right and with regular consumption of health-promoting natural dietary botanicals and herbals," he explains.
Here's where curcumin comes into the cancer picture. "Every cell in our bodies has a finite life span," says Dr. Goel.
"We have genes in our bodies that govern this natural process of cell death. But sometimes those genes go into a deep slumber, allowing cells to continue to live and reproduce long beyond their time, creating cancerous tumors."
Curcumin has been scientifically proven to actually "wake up" those sleeping genes, telling cancer cells it is time to die and stopping the growth of cancerous tumors.
Dr.Goel and his team have produced ground-breaking research that promises to change the way we think about cancer and how it is treated-and curcumin certainly has a strong role in this change.
It almost goes without saying that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers of curcumin are the foundation of its ability to prevent and treat cancer, since cancer is caused by inflammation and oxidative stress, meaning, among other things that DNA has been damaged, impairing the ability of cells to reproduce perfectly.
The staid and highly respected MD Anderson Cancer Center has expressed uncharacteristic enthusiasm about curcumin's anticancer properties in a 2003 statement by researchers published in the journal Anticancer Research;
"Extensive research over the last 50 years has indicated it can prevent and treat cancer...Curcumin can suppress tumor initiation, promotion and metastasis."
Let's take a look at the large body of research that proves curcumin's effectiveness at preventing and fighting cancer:
Blocks carcinogenic substances: We're all exposed to carcinogens on a daily basis from auto exhausts, food packaging, pesticides and a broad spectrum of substances with which we can not avoid contact. Curcumin apparently blocks those carcinogens, preventing them from causing the cellular damage that ultimately results in cancer.
Stops invasion: Cancer cells invade normal tissue with the help of certain enzymes called matrix metalloproteinase. Curcumin slows or stops the activity of this enzyme, helping halt the spread of cancerous cells.
Cuts off tumor blood supply: Invasive tumors are fed by their own specially developed network of blood vessels through a process called angiogenesis. Curcumin slows the ability of these tumors to create their blood supply, eventually starving and killing the abnormal clusters of cells.
Convinces cancerous cells to die: As Dr. Goel points out, "sleeping genes" interfere with the cancer cells' natural life and death cycle called apoptosis. Cancer cells quite literally turn off the signal that it is time to die. Curcumin actually turns on that signal, telling the cancer cells to die, so the tumors eventually die, too. Dr. Goel is currently engaged in more research on the sleeping gene mechanism. These are the basic ways that Curcumin works to prevent and stop cancer.
There are are literally dozens of studies that shows curcumin's effectiveness against specific types of cancer.
Here's a list of types of cancer for which curcumin has been scientifically validated as a preventive or treatment.Breast, Cervical, Colorectal, Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Head and Neck, Leukemia, Lung, Lymphoma, Melanoma, Oral, Ovarian, Prostate, Sarcoma, Squamous Cell
As a final word, even the famed Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is on the curcumin bandwagon, endorsing an anticancer cocktail mixed with another known cancer preventive, green tea.
As yet unpublished animal studies show strong evidence that curcumin, administered in tandem with more traditional anticancer drugs, reduces the toxicity of those drugs and improves their effectiveness. Three human studies are now underway combining curcumin with certain types of chemotherapy drugs commonly used to treat breast and colon cancers. Eagerly awaiting more information on this exciting development. However, there have been several promising studies on the ability of curcumin to improve the effectiveness of many types of chemo and radiation therapy by making the cancer cells more sensitive to these treatment. However please discuss with your integrative health professional how best to use curcumin if you are currently undergoing cancer treatment.
Conclusion - While the scientific evidence in favor of curcumin for all of the diseases mentioned in this book is impressive, the quality of proof that curcumin prevents and treats a wide variety of cancer is truly exceptional.
Cancer prevention alone should be a sufficient incentive to include curcumin in your daily supplement regimen.