Curcumin—One of the Most Powerful Cancer Gene Regulators
It’s now becoming more widely accepted that cancer is not pre-programmed into your genes, but rather it’s the environment of your body that regulates your genetic expression that can trigger cancer to occur. Adverse epigenetic influences that can damage or mutate DNA and alter genetic expression, allowing cancer to proliferate, include:
- Nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances
- Chronic stress
- Toxins and pollution
- Chronic inflammation
- Chronic infections
- Free radical damage
- Infectious toxic byproducts
- Thoughts and emotional conflicts
Curcumin currently has more evidence-based literature supporting its use against cancer than any other nutrient. Interestingly this also includes the metabolite of curcumin and its derivatives, which are also anti-cancerous. Best of all, curcumin appears to be safe in the treatment of all cancers.
Researchers have found that curcumin can affect more than 100 different pathways, once it gets into the cell. More specifically, curcumin has been found to:
- Inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells
- Inhibit the transformation of cells from normal to tumor
- Help your body destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread throughout your body
- Decrease inflammation
- Inhibit the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation
- Help prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth (angiogenesis)
However, much of curcumin’s power seems to lie in its ability to modulate genetic activity and expression—both by destroying cancer cells, and by promoting healthy cell function. It also promotes anti-angiogenesis, i.e. it helps prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth as discussed above.
For example, a 2005 study in Biochemical Pharmacology found that curcumin can help slow the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs in mice.
“Curcumin acts against transcription factors, which are like a master switch,” said lead researcher, Bharat Aggarwal.“Transcription factors regulate all the genes needed for tumors to form. When we turn them off, we shut down some genes that are involved in the growth and invasion of cancer cells.”
Another study in Biochemical Pharmacology also found that curcumin inhibits the activation of NF-kappaB, a regulatory molecule that signals genes to produce a slew of inflammatory molecules (including TNF, COX-2 and IL-6) that promote cancer cell growth.
Other Health Benefits of Curcumin
The growing interest in curcumin over the past 50 years is understandable when you consider the many health benefits researchers have found when studying this herb. According to studies, curcumin may help:
- Reduce cholesterol levels
- Suppress thrombosis and myocardial infraction
- Suppress symptoms of multiple sclerosis
- Suppress tumor formation
- Increase bile secretion
- Prevent low-density lipoprotein oxidation
- Suppress symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes
- Suppress symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
- Enhance wound healing
- Protect against cataracts
- Inhibit platelet aggregation
- Suppress symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
- Inhibit HIV replication
- Protect against liver damage
- Protect against pulmonary toxicity and fibrosis
To get the full benefits curcumin has to offer, look for a turmeric extract that contains 100 percent certified organic ingredients, with at least 95 percent curcuminoids. The formula should be free of fillers, additives and excipients (a substance added to the supplement as a processing or stability aid), and the manufacturer should use safe production practices at all stages: planting, cultivation, selective harvesting, and then producing and packaging the final product.
How to Use Curcumin
Unfortunately, at the present time there really are no formulations available for the use against cancer. This is because relatively high doses are required and curcumin is not absorbed that well.
According to Dr. William LaValley, one of the leading medicine cancer physicians I personally know, typical anticancer doses are up to three grams of good bioavailable curcumin extract, three to four times daily. One work-around is to use the curcumin powder and make a microemulsion of it by combining a tablespoon of the powder and mixing it into 1-2 egg yolks and a teaspoon or two of melted coconut oil. Then use a high speed hand blender to emulsify the powder.
Another strategy that can help increase absorption is to put one tablespoon of the curcumin powder into a quart of boiling water. It must be boiling when you add the powder as it will not work as well if you put it in room temperature water and heat the water and curcumin. After boiling it for 10 minutes you will have created a 12 percent solution that you can drink once it has cooled down. It will have a woody taste.
The curcumin will gradually fall out of solution however. In about six hours it will be a six percent solution, so it’s best to drink the water within four hours.
Be aware that curcumin is a very potent yellow pigment and can permanently discolor surfaces if you aren’t careful.