The term cancer is used to define a group of disorders characterized by a proliferative growth of cells. The cells multiply rapidly and spread to different tissues all over the body.
The cancerous growth may originate in any of the cells within the body. Cell division takes place in a highly organized manner.
Cancer occurs when this system is disrupted. The cell properties change, causing new cells to arise before the old cells have died. This condition can progressively damage surrounding organs and tissues.
Cancers occur in several forms depending on the organs they affect. Prostate cancer i.e. cancer of the prostate in males is one such form. It is a very common form of the disease.
It is very difficult to detect early on. This is because it is a very slow growing cancer. It is mostly seen in men who are aged 65 years or older.
What is Curcumin?
Curcumin is a naturally yellow compound which is a critical component of the spice, turmeric. Turmeric is the main spice used in Indian curries which impart a unique flavour and taste to them.
It is highly bioactive and polyphenolic in nature, and its administration elicits several positive effects on the human body.
Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal practices have used it as means of disease treatment for centuries due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Scientists often refer to the compound as ‘curecumin’ as it is capable of fighting and reversing signs of almost any disease. It helps boost body and brain strength and is thus helpful for our health.
Table of Contents
- Benefits of Curcumin for Prostate Cancer
- 1. Curcumin can serve as Targeted therapy for prostate cancer
- 2. Curcumin causes cell death of prostate cancer cells
- 3. Curcumin increases oxidative stress in prostate cancer cells
- 4. Curcumin inhibits tumor growth
- 5. Curcumin can prevent Prostate Cancer
- 6. Curcumin regulates cell cycle to inhibit prostate cancer
- 7. Curcumin helps in reversing treatment resistance in prostate cancer
- 8. Curcumin protects from side effects of cancer therapy
- Dosage of Curcumin For Prostate Cancer
Benefits of Curcumin for Prostate Cancer
Curcumin can help in prostate cancer in several ways. Curcumin has a unique multi-targeting system that helps it monitor any different types of cellular activities. Curcumin causes cell death of prostate cancer cells and it also increases oxidative stress in prostate cancer cells to terminate them. Curcumin is known to inhibit tumor growth and regulates cell cycle to inhibit prostate cancer. It is also observed that curcumin helps in reversing treatment resistance in prostate cancer. Lastly, it also protects from side effects of cancer therapy.
Some of the benefits of turmeric in the treatment of prostate cancer have been listed as follows:
1. Curcumin can serve as Targeted therapy for prostate cancer
In 2015, Biomaterials published a study which was based on analysis of efficiency curcumin nanoparticles to treat prostate cancer.
It was carried out with the objective of increasing bioavailability of the compound for cancer cells. When tested with prostate cancer cell cultures, curcumin displayed the ability to arrest the cell cycle and induce apoptosis (program cell death).
The main objective of creating such novel therapeutic systems for prostate cancer treatment is to overcome the barriers of low bioavailability, solubility and rapid metabolism associated with natural curcumin despite its anti-cancer abilities.
Therefore, scientists are putting in a great amount of effort into developing more enhanced drug delivery systems for the compound.
What does this mean?
Through the administration of curcumin nanoparticles, the anti-cancer activities of curcumin were enhanced significantly. It monitors cell damage enabling it useful in prostate cancer therapy.
2. Curcumin causes cell death of prostate cancer cells
It is believed that curcumin could potential bring about cancer cell destruction by inhibition of key signalling pathways such as NF-κBin the immune cells near the site of the tumor.
This was investigated by Huarong Hang et al. where they saw that prostate cancer cells lines, when pre-treated with curcumin and α-Tomatine(a chemical found in tomatoes), displayed an enhanced cell death rate due to the downregulation of the Bcl-2 gene through which apoptosis was induced.
The compounds worked synergistically to enhance apoptosis in the given animal model revealing their potential for human prostate cancer treatment.
What does this mean?
The administration of curcumin activates the tumor-killing genes. This ability to manipulate cell signals and reactions imparts cancer preventive activity to the compound.
3. Curcumin increases oxidative stress in prostate cancer cells
Free radicles are harmful chemicals found in our body in an unbound state. These are kept in check by antioxidant compounds.
If the rate of build-up of free radicles exceeds the rate of their elimination, a toxic condition known as oxidative stress takes place.
Although it is important to take antioxidants to prevent cancer and boost body’s defenses, it is observed that induction of oxidative stress in cancer cells can help terminate them.
Derivatives of curcumin are found to induce oxidative stress and kill cancer cells in advanced prostate cancer.
Also, Wei-Jun Lee’s experiment highlighted that curcumin brings about cancer cell death by inducing reactive oxygen species with the cells.
What does this mean?
Curcumin is a natural antioxidant, but in case of prostate cancer cells (or other cancers as well) it can induce oxidative stress to terminate them and prevent tumor growth.
4. Curcumin inhibits tumor growth
Decelerating tumor growth is highly important in prostate cancer treatment. This is possible through the use of turmeric and its extracts.
Curcumin administration effectively obstructs a number of processes related to cancer progression.
Some of these are proliferation, invasion and most importantly, metastasis. It binds and interacts closely with key genes, proteins, and enzymes and monitors their cell signals and division patterns.
Through a Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research published the study, an additional benefit of curcumin as an anti-tumor agent was discovered.
The compound, in combination with bicalutamide, halted the growth of androgen-independent prostate cancer cells by lowering the expression the p65 gene which mediates cell division or growth of prostate cancer cells.
What does this mean?
The compound curcumin in turmeric exerts anti-tumor effects on prostate cancer cells; it modifies genetic interactions and prevents metastasis thereby avoiding cancerous developments.
5. Curcumin can prevent Prostate Cancer
Cell proliferation is the phenomenon by which an increase in the number of cells brought about. It is characterized by the loss of balance between cell divisions and cell death or differentiation. This process is enhanced in tumors.
Curcumin provides a possible natural solution to this condition as well.
As per a BMB Reports study, significant research through means of molecular biology approaches revealed that curcumin administration coupled with another natural compound, Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) was successful in lowering cell proliferation due to downregulation of cell division promoting enzymes along increased activity of cell cycle arresting genes like p21.
What does this mean?
The use of curcumin strengthens the genetic defences in the body, inducing apoptosis and not allowing for unmonitored cell proliferation. It is therefore useful for the prevention of occurrence and progression of prostate cancer.
6. Curcumin regulates cell cycle to inhibit prostate cancer
A number of molecules and pathways are interconnected in the process of cancer occurrence. In the case of prostate cancer, two proteins- Bcl-2 and Bax play an important role in its occurrence?
A 2015 study conducted by Jiayi Yang illustrated how prostate cancer cells treated with curcumin showed decreased Bcl-2 and Bax activity. This, in turn, resulted in suppression of proliferation of cancerous cells along with cell death being initiated.
The experiment was carried out using an animal model, and the findings were validated through a detailed analysis of the tumor characteristics.
Two studies published in 2005 gave results which were highly useful in understanding how curcumin brought about anti- tumor activities in prostate cancer cells.
These studies provided answers to questions that scientists had been asking for years regarding the ability of the compound to inhibit tumour cell growth.
The first one involved extensive research conducted by Yuefeng Du and colleagues wherein various molecular biology techniques were used to demonstrate how curcumin could effectively block key cancer-related molecule, the
Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), which in turn control cancerous signals and cytokine receptors.
In the second article, the ability of the compound to arrest cell cycle signals within prostate cancer cells was highlighted, thus halting their proliferative growth.
This was brought about by the production of molecules which halt the cell cycle, reactive oxygen species.
What does this mean?
Since the compound, curcumin present in turmeric is capable of altering cell cycle and regulating cancer cell division; it has potential to be used as an anti-cancer agent in prostate cancer.
7. Curcumin helps in reversing treatment resistance in prostate cancer
One of the key barriers to prostate cancer treatment is the ability of the cancerous growths to resist the effects of therapy rendering them useless.
Scientists have searched for various means to overcome this drawback to radio and chemotherapy; one such agent could be curcumin. It employs multiple pathways to ensure the cancer cells elicit the desired response to treatment.
This phenomenon is a result of many properties of the compound.
It regulates genetic and cell signalling pathways (NF-κB, STAT3, COX2, Akt) along with key proteins and molecules to ensure the cancerous cells imbibe the radiation/ chemicals within their cells and initiate apoptosis.
What does this mean?
Curcumin can help in reversing treatment resistance in prostate cancer. It is capable of regulating cell cycles and inducing sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation therapy.
8. Curcumin protects from side effects of cancer therapy
A majority of cancer treatment is directed towards the inhibition of a protein called nuclear factor-kappaB.
This protein controls many processes in the body, one of them being cell proliferation and development. Often, the smooth functioning of this protein gets disrupted post chemotherapy, causing it to have harmful effects on normal cells.
Curcumin is a means of preventing such damage to non-cancerous cells.
Belcaro G saw that use of an advanced delivery system of curcumin helped relieve the side effects of chemotherapy.
This phenomenon could be attributed to the unique anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potentials of the compound.
This makes curcumin capable of not only sensitizing cancer cells to treatment but also protecting normal cells from harm.
What does this mean?
Curcumin does not allow toxic side effects of chemotherapy to act on normal cells and has been shown to be useful in speeding up the process of reception of therapy by cancerous cells at the same time.
Dosage of Curcumin For Prostate Cancer
A specific dosage of curcumin has not been prescribed for prostate cancer.
However many studies utilize a dose of 300mg twice a day for such conditions.
Most research studies utilize a dose of 500-1000mg of curcumin per day. It is best to consult a doctor for the appropriate dosage and formulation of curcumin.
With the help of scientists, we have compiled a research-backed dosage cycle of turmeric and curcumin for cancer treatment. (Read: Turmeric/Curcumin Dosage For Cancer)
There are several types of curcumin supplements available in the market. Check out the popular types and best brands here>
Always start with a low dosage and increase gradually over weeks. Curcumin supplements are best taken after meals and avoid taking them at the same time as any other medication. Maintain a 3-4 hour gap.
Turmeric in the diet is very safe, and most studies have demonstrated that curcumin, even at high dosages, for a shorter period of time is safe.
However, a few precautions must be noted (Read: Side effects & Precautions of Curcumin)
Rule out any allergies with turmeric and curcumin.
Avoid taking curcumin supplements on an empty stomach as they may trigger acid reflux in susceptible individuals.
Gastric discomfort is possible with the sudden introduction of curcumin, especially at high doses. Start with small dosages and increase gradually over weeks to recommended dosages to minimize gastric side effects. In the case of serious gastric side effects, discontinue use of curcumin.
Curcumin interferes with drug metabolism. Hence it is advised to avoid taking curcumin supplements at the same time as taking other medicines. Maintain a 3-4 hour gap. Also, consult a health practitioner with regards to this to avoid any drug interactions.
Curcumin has blood thinning activity. If taking blood thinners or suffering from a bleeding /clotting disorder, it is advisable to avoid curcumin supplements in this case. (Read: Is turmeric a blood thinner?) Consult a health practitioner with regards to this.
Discontinue curcumin supplements two weeks before surgical procedures to avoid bleeding risk.
If suffering from gallstones or bile duct obstructions, avoid curcumin supplements.
Avoid turmeric supplements during pregnancy and lactation.
Ensure that you opt for good quality curcumin supplements that are free from toxicity, heavy metal contamination, fillers or additives.
Check out list of Best Curcumin Supplements here>
Studies boasting of curcumin’s therapeutic potentials are being published in journals worldwide, contributing to its popularity. Its benefits for use in prostate cancer treatment are plenty.
Through close interactions with and modulation of cancer-related genes, proteins and enzymes it produces desirable results and shows promise as a chemotherapeutic agent.