Turmeric/ curcumin act as a potent anti-carcinogenic compound and were recently nominated by the National Cancer Institute for study. Induction of apoptosis plays an important role in its anti-carcinogenic properties.
Curcumin induces apoptosis, inhibits cell cycle progression and finally prevents cancerous cell growth. The mechanism responsible for apoptosis (programmed cell death) involves inhibition of cell signaling pathway genes like Akt, NF-kB, AP 1 and DNA damage.
Another of Turmeric benefits is it inhibits the Topoisomerase enzyme, which is required for the replication of cancer and parasite cells. It strongly inhibits DNA and RNA synthesis and increases mitochondrial membrane permeability; a very significant property in the apoptosis of proliferating cells.
It can also prevent proliferation by cell cycle arrest in the G2/M phase in a variety of malignant tumors. G2/M arrest renders cells more susceptible to the cytotoxic effects of radiation, suggesting that curcumin may find significance as a radio sensitizer.
The ability to inhibit COX-2 gene over expression, which is implicated in the carcinogenesis of many different tumors, has suggested a plausible role of curcumin to protect children against leukaemia. Curcumin was shown to induce apoptosis among leukaemia B lymphoma cells and inhibits the multiplication of leukaemia cells in laboratory studies.
Earlier research conducted at the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Centre has shown that curcumin an active compound of turmeric can also inhibit Cytochrome P450, a phase I metabolizing isoenzyme which is required for toxic chemicals such as heterocyclic amines to induce DNA adduct formation leading to carcinogenesis.
And on the other hand to activate phase II metabolizing enzymes generally regarded as favourable detoxifiers, implies its strong promise as a possible safe and nontoxic chemo preventive and/or treatment agent for colon, skin, stomach, liver, lung, duodenum, soft palate and breasts cancers.
Furthermore (additional turmeric benefits), curcumin can enhance cancer cells’ sensitivity to certain drugs commonly used to combat cancer and can potentially improve the effectiveness of radiation treatment. For example, IFN-Gamma chemotherapy was found to be effective against non-small cell lung cancer, which was relatively insensitive in the absence of curcumin.
Another study reported that curcumin could protect animals from the tumour-producing effects of deadly gamma radiation and it protects against damaging ultraviolet light, which is known to play a role in the development of skin cancer. Ayurveda especially recommends turmeric for cancers of the female reproductive system, namely breast and uterine cancer.
Even if one was going the allopathic route to treat their cancer, they can still use turmeric to increase the effectiveness and decrease some of the side effects of cancer treatments. The efficacy of turmeric to decrease cell viability, cell cycle arrest and induction of apoptosis is encouraging to the development of a natural drug with known Nuke-B inhibitory activity.
In short, turmeric is an example of a natural dietary agent capable of acting at multi levels in cellular pathway for the prevention or treatment of diseases with multi-factorial etiologies such as colon, skin, stomach, liver, lung duodenum, soft palate and breast cancer (all turmeric benefits).