Curcumin in cancer diseases

Without knowing it, most people consume small amounts of curcumin every day, which is added to various foods as a coloring agent (E100), such as margarine, pasta, jam and mustard. The curry spice also owes its bright yellow color to it.

Unbeknownst to most people, they consume small amounts of curcumin every day, which is added to various foods as a coloring (E100) such as margarine, pasta, jam and mustard. Curry pepper also owes its bright yellow color to him.

Curcumin is a substance found in the plant Curcuma longa, also known as turmeric or Indian saffron, which comes from India and Southeast Asia. As with ginger, which is related to the turmeric plant, the tuber is used. The substance, which is chemically defined as diferuloylmethane, can also be produced synthetically.

Turmeric preparations are not only used as a spice, but also as a medicine. For at least 2000 years, the plant has been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a remedy for arthritis, respiratory diseases, skin rashes and digestive disorders.

Curcumin and cancer

Curcumin came into the scientific spotlight when cancer rates in India were compared to other countries in the world. Compared to the Indian population, Americans were found to develop 17 times more prostate cancer and 3.5 times more breast cancer in Americans. Other types of cancer also showed a significantly lower incidence in Indians compared to people from other countries [1] . Epidemiologists attribute this primarily to the daily use of turmeric in the diet along with other lifestyle factors such as increased exercise, reduced calories, less meat and fat in the diet and other cancer-inhibiting foods (ginger, garlic).

When researching the components of turmeric on cancer cells, it was found that the mentioned curcumin (diferuloylmethane) has the main effect against tumor proliferation. As the Indian researcher prof. Aggarwal, curcumin interacts with more than a hundred receptors, growth factors, inflammatory messengers, and enzymes in the laboratory. In comparison, chemotherapy drugs always target only one metabolic pathway. It is no wonder that tumor cells often become resistant to oncology therapy after only a few treatments.

The metabolic pathways and receptors with which curcumin interacts include:

The large number of receptors and metabolic pathways that curcumin attacks makes it difficult for tumor cells to defend themselves. Curcumin is particularly effective at inhibiting inflammation. Since there is almost no disease that is not associated with inflammation, curcumin is used not only for cancer, but also for joint inflammation, inflammation in the digestive tract, skin diseases, and even Alzheimer's [1].< /p>

In addition to its direct effect on tumor cells, curcumin also affects the immune system. The inflammatory producing scavenger cells are inhibited as with cortisone, but without the corresponding side effects [2].

However, the research revealed a problem: curcumin is not soluble in water. However, as is known, such substances are very poorly absorbed by the intestine. How then does the supposed strong inhibitory effect on cancer growth in the Indian population come about? When researching curry spices, it was found that black pepper, which is always included in it, increases absorption up to twenty times through its main component, piperine [3] . The absorption of curcumin is significantly increased by other substances, such as the polysaccharide cyclodextrins or liposomal preparations [4]. These effects are primarily manifested in the gastrointestinal tract. In an American study of patients who develop more intestinal polyps due to a genetic disease, these polyps could be reduced by 60% with curcumin [5].

While the oral administration of curcumin makes sense as a prevention or as an adjunctive therapy, the benefit in the case of manifest cancer is often not visible. However, there is clear efficacy in the laboratory on various tumor types such as breast, ovarian, colon, prostate, and leukemia cells [6] [7] [8]. Even in experiments on animals, tumor inhibitory effects are clearly demonstrated [1] [2]. They always have something to do with the levels of these substances in the tissues. It is therefore self-evident to use curcumin also in infusion preparations, because this bypasses the intestinal passage and the substance gets directly into the blood. Here, too, the main problem is insolubility in water. Therefore, each of these preparations must contain one or more solvents. Side effects from curcumin infusions are almost always caused by these solvents. The effects of solvent alcohol are well known, DMSO causes corresponding fumes, and Kolliphor can cause short-term congestion of the head, but also stimulates the immune system.

Concerned patients often ask whether biological substances interfere with the effects of chemotherapy drugs. The opposite is true for curcumin. It increases the effect of almost all chemotherapy drugs, and therefore it is included in the group of chemosensitizers, which are substances that enhance the effect of cytostatics [3] [4]. It is therefore advisable to administer it quickly after chemotherapy.

Thanks to the large number of points of attack on the cancer cell and the immune system, curcumin is versatile in alternative and complementary treatment of tumors. In addition, however, it is also possible to test possible effectiveness on the relevant tumor cells of the patient. This can be done either directly on tumor tissue obtained by biopsy or on circulating tumor cells. The latter are cancer cells that travel through the blood and are cultured in special laboratories, and whose sensitivity to various substances can be determined.

Conclusion

Curcumin is a substance that will play a central role in the biological treatment of cancer in the future.

References

  • [1] Liu D, He B, Lin L, Malhotra A, Yuan N. Potential of curcumin and resveratrol as biochemical and biophysical modulators during lung cancer in rats. Drug Chem Toxicol. 2019 May;42(3):328-334. doi: 10.1080/01480545.2018.1523921. Epub 2018 Nov 28. PMID: 30484721.
  • [2] Alkhader E, Roberts CJ, Rosli R, Yuen KH, Seow EK, Lee YZ, Billa N. Pharmacokinetic and anti-colon cancer properties of curcumin-containing chitosan-pectinate composite nanoparticles. J Biomater Sci Polym Ed. 2018 Dec;29(18):2281-2298. doi: 10.1080/09205063.2018.1541500. Epub 2018 Dec 28. PMID: 30376409.
  • [3] Tan BL, Norhaizan ME. Curcumin Combination Chemotherapy: The Implication and Efficacy in Cancer. Molecules. 2019 Jul 10;24(14):2527. doi: 10.3390/molecules24142527. PMID: 31295906; PMCID: PMC6680685.
  • [4] Goel A, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin, the golden spice from Indian saffron, is a chemosensitizer and radiosensitizer for tumors and chemoprotector and radioprotector for normal organs. Nutr Cancer. 2010;62(7):919-30. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2010.509835. PMID: 20924967.
  • [1] Bhat A, Mahalakshmi AM, Ray B, Tuladhar S, Hediyal TA, Manthiannem E, Padamati J, Chandra R, Chidambaram SB, Sakharkar MK. Benefits of curcumin in brain disorders. Biofactors. 2019 Sep;45(5):666-689. doi: 10.1002/biof.1533. Epub 2019 Jun 11. PMID: 31185140.
  • [2] Hoppstädter J, Hachenthal N, Valbuena-Perez JV, Lampe S, Astanina K, Kunze MM, Bruscoli S, Riccardi C, Schmid T, Diesel B, Kiemer AK. Induction of Glucocorticoid-induced Leucine Zipper (GILZ) Contributes to Anti-inflammatory Effects of the Natural Product Curcumin in Macrophages. J Biol Chem. 2016 Oct 28;291(44):22949-22960. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M116.733253. Epub 2016 Sep 14. PMID: 27629417; PMCID: PMC5087716.
  • [3] Hoppstädter J, Hachenthal N, Valbuena-Perez JV, Lampe S, Astanina K, Kunze MM, Bruscoli S, Riccardi C, Schmid T, Diesel B, Kiemer AK. Induction of Glucocorticoid-induced Leucine Zipper (GILZ) Contributes to Anti-inflammatory Effects of the Natural Product Curcumin in Macrophages. J Biol Chem. 2016 Oct 28;291(44):22949-22960. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M116.733253. Epub 2016 Sep 14. PMID: 27629417; PMCID: PMC5087716.
  • [4] Liu W, Zhai Y, Heng X, Che FY, Chen W, Sun D, Zhai G. Oral bioavailability of curcumin: problems and advancements. J Drug Target. 2016 Sep;24(8):694-702. doi: 10.3109/1061186X.2016.1157883. Epub 2016 Mar 17. PMID: 26942997.
  • [5] Cruz-Correa M, Hylind LM, Marrero JH, Zahurak ML, Murray-Stewart T, Casero RA Jr, Montgomery EA, Iacobuzio-Donahue C, Brosens LA, Offerhaus GJ, Umar A, Rodriguez LM, Giardiello FM. Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Treatment of Intestinal Adenomas in Patients With Familial Adenomatous Polyposis. Gastroenterology. 2018 Sep;155(3):668-673. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2018.05.031. Epub 2018 May 23. PMID: 29802852; PMCID: PMC6120769.
  • [6] Koroth J, Nirgude S, Tiwari S, Gopalakrishnan V, Mahadeva R, Kumar S, Karki SS, Choudhary B. Investigation of anti-cancer and migrastatic properties of novel curcumin derivatives on breast and ovarian cancer cell lines. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019 Oct 21;19(1):273. doi: 10.1186/s12906-019-2685-3. PMID: 31638975; PMCID: PMC6802352.
  • [7] Calibasi-Kocal G, Pakdemirli A, Bayrak S, Ozupek NM, Sever T, Basbinar Y, Ellidokuz H, Yigitbasi T. Curcumin effects on cell proliferation, angiogenesis and metastasis in colorectal cancer. J BUON. 2019 Jul-Aug;24(4):1482-1487. PMID: 31646795.
  • [8] Kouhpeikar H, Butler AE, Bamian F, Barreto GE, Majeed M, Sahebkar A. Curcumin as a therapeutic agent in leukemia. J Cell Physiol. 2019 Aug;234(8):12404-12414. doi: 10.1002/jcp.28072. Epub 2019 Jan 4. PMID: 30609023.

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