Turmeric gets to the root of cancer

Turmeric gets to the root of cancer

Turmeric gets to the root of cancer

Turmeric gets to the root of cancer, according to new research.

American researchers examined the ability of the most potent ingredient in turmeric called curcumin. They studied curcumin for its ability to attack cancer stem cells, which are believed to be the root of cancer.

While scientists believe that tumors have a self-renewal ability, the new cancer stem cell model suggests that, “[T]he initiation, maintenance, and growth of a tumor is driven by a minor population of cancer cells termed cancer stem cells (CSCs),” and that “These CSCs undergo continuous self-renewal and differentiate to heterogeneous cancer cells, yielding new tumors recapitulating the parental tumors, while the majority of cancer cells lack self-renewal capacity.”

To simplify, the cancer stem cells are the mothers of the cancer cells that they create.

Turmeric has been researched probably more than any other natural substance on earth for its medicinal and anti-cancer properties. The medicinal properties of turmeric have been the subject of over 6000 peer-reviewed and published biomedical studies. The new study is one of many showing that turmeric gets to the root of cancer, by attacking stem cells.

The study showed the following on how turmeric attacks cancer stem cells:

  1. Regulation of the CSC self-renewal pathway:  curcumin appears to directly and indirectly influence at least three self-renewal pathways within cancer stem cells, namely, Wnt/b-catenin, sonic hedgehog 89 (SHH), and Notch. The authors list 12 difference cancer cell lines which curcumin appear to affect positively.
  2. Modulation of microRNA: microRNAs are short non-coding RNA sequences that regulate approximately 33% of the protein-coding genes in the human genome. They bind to target messenger RNAs (mRNAs) leading to their degradation or inactivation. Curcumin has been found to alter the expression of microRNAs in cancer stem cells in a way that would suggest a strong suppression of tumor formation.
  1. Direct anti-cancer activity: Curcumin exhibits the ability to selectively kill cancer cells versus healthy cells and synergizes with conventional chemotherapy agents making them more effective (in some cases less harmful).

The researchers also evaluated turmeric to make sure that it is safe. They found no side effects that are cause for concern.

The study authors concluded:

“Curcumin, as well as its modified forms (analogues or nanoparticle-encapsulated formulations), has shown great potential to inhibit CSCs in several types of cancer both in cell cultures and in mouse models, including glioma, breast, colorectal, pancreatic, brain, and esophageal cancers. Some analogues (e.g., CDF) and formulations (e.g., nanotechnology-based formulation) have exhibited improved efficacy against CSC-like cells and greater growth-inhibitory capacity in tumors. It is promising to evaluate curcumin and its modified forms in other types of CSCs.”

The study showing that turmeric gets to the root of cancer was published in the journal Cancer Letters.

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1. “Turmeric Extract Strikes To The Root Cause of Cancer Malignancy.” GreenMedInfo.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2016.
2. “Targeting Cancer Stem Cells by Curcumin and Clinical Applications.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2016.

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