Curcumin and prostate cancer



Curcuma longa, a bitter taste tropical plant that belongs to the Zingiberaceae family cultivated extensively in Asia, India, China and many other countries [1], has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat multiple symptoms and as a natural remedy for many other ailments and affections.

Curcuma longa resembles a lot other Zingiberaceae family plants as Zingiber officinale (Ginger), and as this one has many known properties and health benefits.

The powder obtained from the dried rhizome of Curcuma longa (turmeric), known as curry, is used in many traditional Indian dishes and is part of the Indian diet since centuries ago. Image: See credits under ref. [18] below.


Family: Zingiberaceae

Genus: Curcuma

Common name: Turmeric, Curcuma longa, Curcuma domestica Valeton.



Almost everyone is familiar with the yellow colour of curry, but not everyone knows that this colour is the effect of a polyphenol found in Curcuma longa rhizome, a polyphenol known as Curcumin.

Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), one of the most active chemical constituents found in Turmeric or Curcuma longa, is a pungent, bitter and astringent turmeric constituent that has been traditionally used in herbal preparations and as a dye and flavouring agent, a polyphenol compound from the group of curcuminoids. Now scientists from Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich (LMU) led by PD Dr Beatrice Bachmeier, have discovered that Curcumin suppresses metastases of certain cancers.

Knowing about the properties exerted by Turmeric, scientists and researchers have been targeting this plant since years ago, some of them with quite a big success in their findings of cancer, Alzheimer's disease prevention...etc.

Now scientists from Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich (LMU) led by PD Dr Beatrice Bachmeier, have discovered how Curcumin, the polyphenol responsible for the characteristic yellow colour of curry, suppresses metastases of certain cancers [2].

In animal models, the team demonstrated how Curcumin was able to significantly reduce the formation of lung metastases of advanced breast cancer[2].



In spite the study was focused on the use of Curcumin as a preventive agent in prostate cancer metastasis, breast cancer is also driven by the same type of latent or chronic inflammatory reactions producing pro-inflammatory proteins known as cytokines. In the study, performed in animals, Curcumin was able to decrease of two of these cytokines, namely CXCL1 and CXCL2 [2].



TURMERIC But these are not the only benefits of curcumin. In other studies and experiments, curcumin exhibited very powerful anti-inflammatory properties [5], probably due to the effect that it has on the activities of cytokines, enzymes and transcription factors linked to inflammation, proving also its potential benefit for the treatment of cancer (Hep3B Liver and MCF-7 Breast Cancers) [5].

Additionally, curcumin induced apoptosis in several types of human SCLC NCI-H446 cells. Image right: Turmeric flower by foam under Creative Commons licence (CC BY 2.0).

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[1] Effects of Curcuma longa (turmeric) on postprandial plasma glucose and insulin in healthy subjects Jennie Wickenberg,1 Sandra Lindstedt Ingemansson,2 and Joanna Hlebowicz1 
[2] Ludwig-Maximiliam University Press Release.
[3] Curcumin Inhibits Prostate Cancer Metastasis in vivo by Targeting the Inflammatory Cytokines CXCL1 and -2 Peter H. Killian1, Emanuel Kronski1, Katharina Michalik1, Ottavia Barbieri2,3, Simonetta Astigiano2, Christian P. Sommerhoff1, Ulrich Pfeffer4, Andreas G. Nerlich5 and Beatrice E. Bachmeier1,4,*
[4] Curcumin Inhibits Prostate Cancer Metastasis in vivo by Targeting the Inflammatory Cytokines CXCL1 and -2. Killian PH, Kronski E, Michalik K, Barbieri O, Astigiano S, Sommerhoff CP, Pfeffer U, Nerlich AG, Bachmeier BE. Department of Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Biochemistry, Surgical Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Munich, Germany.
[5] Curcumin Decreases Survival of Hep3B Liver and MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells : The Role of HIF. Ströfer M, Jelkmann W, Depping R. Department of Physiology, Center for Structural and Cell Biology in Medicine, University of Luebeck, Luebeck, Germany.
[6] An evidence-based approach to dietary phytochemicals By Jane Higdon
[7] Curcumin Induces Small Cell Lung Cancer NCI-H446 Cell Apoptosis via the Reactive Oxygen Species-Mediated Mitochondrial Pathway and Not the Cell Death Receptor Pathway. Yang CL, Ma YG, Xue YX, Liu YY, Xie H, Qiu GR. Department of Thoracic Surgery, Liaoning Cancer Hospital and Institute , Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China
[8] Targeting colon cancer stem cells using a new curcumin analogue, GO-Y030. Lin L, Liu Y, Li H, Li PK, Fuchs J, Shibata H, Iwabuchi Y, Lin J. Center for Childhood Cancer, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43205, USA [2] Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430030, China.
[9] Curcumin: an anti-inflammatory molecule from a curry spice on the path to cancer treatment. Basnet P, Skalko-Basnet N. Drug Transport and Delivery Research Group, Department of Pharmacy, University of Tromsø, Tromsø N- 9037, Norway.
[10] Neuroprotective effects of curcumin. Li Y, Wang P. Herbal Pharmacology Laboratory, Dongzhimen Hospital Affiliated to Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing 100700, China.
[11] Formulation of a medical food cocktail for Alzheimer's disease: beneficial effects on cognition and neuropathology in a mouse model of the disease. Parachikova A, Green KN, Hendrix C, LaFerla FM. Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California, United States of America.
[14] Investigational medications for treatment of patients with Alzheimer disease. Potter PE. Department of Pharmacology, Midwestern University/Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, Glendale, Arizona 85308-6813, USA.
[12] Uses of turmeric in dentistry: an update. Chaturvedi TP. Division of Orthodontics and General Dentistry, Faculty of Dental Sciences, Institute of Medical Sciences, 4GF Jodhpur Colony, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221005, Uttar Pradesh, India
[13] In vitro suppression of oral squamous cell carcinoma growth by ultrasound-mediated delivery of curcumin microemulsions. Lin HY, Thomas JL, Chen HW, Shen CM, Yang WJ, Lee MH. Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, National University of Kaohsiung, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. [14]Developing the medicinal plants sector in northern India: challenges and opportunities Chandra Prakash Kala, Pitamber Prasad Dhyani, and Bikram Singh Sajwan1 [15] Shiva MP. Inventory of Forestry Resources for Sustainable Management and Biodiversity Conservation. New Delhi: Indus Publishing Company; 1996. [16] Wikipedia article on Vascular plants.
[17] Rao MR, Palada MC, Becker BN. Medicinal and aromatic plants in agro-forestry systems. Agroforestry Systems. 2004;61:107–122. doi: 10.1023/B:AGFO.0000028993.83007.4b.
[18] Pixabay image under Public Domain License CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0).