How Turmeric is Changing the Fight Against Tumors

Tumors are the abnormally grown tissues in the body.

These are usually formed when the normal cells of the body divide in excess and grow at higher rate. Another name for tumors is neoplasms.

In a healthy person, the rate of cell growth and division is under a strict control, however, in tumorous growth, this balance is highly disturbed.

Tumors can grow in any tissue or organ in the body. Tumors can be classified as benign, malignant, in situ neoplasm and neoplasm of unknown kind.

The benign tumors are mostly noncancerous and not harmful in most cases, while the malignant tumors are cancerous and can be lethal.

In situ neoplasm includes potential malignant tumors; these kinds of tumors do not invade and destroy cells.

However, if left untreated, these may transform into cancer eventually .

There can be many causes for the formation of tumors. Some of them include, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, problem in the immune system, exposure to excess sunlight, genetic problem and many more .

The main cause for the tumor formation varies; however, the process by which they are formed is same. The old dead cells are disposed of naturally to make space for the new cells.

In the tumor formation, these dead cells are not disposed of but remain behind form the tumor growth .

The tumor growth leads to formation of a lump which can be either felt or seen in the body.

About Turmeric

Curcuma longa or Turmeric is a perennial herb which is known worldwide as a spice.

This spice has been part of the Indian Ayurveda for thousands of years and is known to possess numerous medicinal properties.

The spice is also used in the Asian cuisine for its unique color and flavor.

The women have been using this spice in various forms for treatment for hair fall, anti-aging and wound healing. The extract of turmeric is known to contain o phytochemical known as Curcumin, which is the main reason behind the numerous medicinal properties of turmeric.

Turmeric Benefits in Treatment of Tumors

This compound is known to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor and anti-cancerous properties. Curcumin is known to play an important in the treatment of cancer and many studies have provided with strong evidence that curcumin can be an excellent candidate for the treatment of both cancers and tumors.

It has been reported in many studies that curcumin has the ability to downregulate numerous components of multiple pathways which are involved in tumorgeneisis.

curcumin can inhibit the activation of Akt and downregulate expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and signal transducers and activators of transcription 3(STAT3), all of these are involved in the formation of tumor in the cells and tissues.

Curcumin has also been reported to induce cell cycle arrest, cell death, cell adhesion and cell angiogenesis in the tumorous cells. This flavonoid is known to inhibit the activation of a factor known as the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB).

This factor is mainly involved in regulation and expression of tumorigenic growth factors like VEGF, COX-2, apoptosis (cell death by suicide) and inter-leukin 8 (IL-8).

Much tumorous growth has been found to contain activated NF-kB factor thus downregulation of this factor could possibly inhibit tumor growth.

The inactivation of this factor is further controlled by IkB kinase activity. Curcumin is also able to inhibit IkB kinase as well, which prevents the NF-kB factor from translocating to the nucleus and activate other genes.

Turmeric for tumors

In another study, it was reported that curcumin played an important role in the regression of premalignant lesions. Curcumin was able to inhibit the initiation of tumor formation by triggering the regulation of glutathione transferase.

This is one of the important antioxidant produced by the body for the maintenance of normal cell activity.

In combination with curcumin, this component can inhibit mutagens which promote tumor growth. Curcumin also inhibits the activity and expression of cytochrome P450 enzyme and reduces the oxidative stress and inflammation in the tumor cells.

Curcumin suppressed the expression of ARNT which is highly expressed in the tumor cells by degrading ARNT through oxidation.

In a recent study, it was reported that curcumin-induced negative curvature of in the bilayer of the tumorous cell by inserting into the cell membrane.

This negative curvature formation had induced apoptosis in the cell by increasing the activity of permeabilizing of the apoptotic protein known as tBid.

Curcumin has been reported in many studies to stop the proliferation and survival of all types of tumors.

The most unique fact about the mode of action of curcumin is that it specifically targets the tumorous cells and does not have an effect on the normal cells.

Among the numerous components involved in apoptosis is the family of cysteine proteins known as the capases.

These play a significant role in apoptosis and inflammation. Curcumin activates capases and leads to DNA damage in the tumor cells. It also puts oxidative stress on the endoplasmic reticulum of the cell and triggers mitochondrial-dependent induced apoptosis.

Curcumin is also known to induce the expression of p53 at the G2 phase in the mitotic cell cycle and release cytochrome c from the mitochondria.

This leads to apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the tumor cells. The factor p53 is an important part of the apoptotic pathways as it protects the cell from tumorigenic alteration.

It was reported in the study done by Thayyullathil et al. that curcumin triggered the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which released the AIF factor from the mitochondria into the cytosol of the tumor cells.

This further triggered capase-3 independent apoptosis.

The AIF (apoptosis-inducing factor) is a type of protease in the mitochondria which is apoptotic in nature. Upon induction, this factor moves from mitochondria to the cytosol and then into the nucleus.

In the nucleus it induces the condensation of the chromatin and fragments the DNA of the tumor cells.

Cyclin D1 is a subunit of the Cdk4 and Cdk6 and is found overexpressed in tumors of the esophagus, breast, head and neck, and prostate.

Curcumin has been reported to downregulate cyclin D1 in the tumors and inhibit the cell cycle progression. Cyclin D1 is also regulated by NF-kB and its inactivation by curcumin also down-regulates the expression of cyclin D1 .

Another important property of curcumin against tumor formation is its anti-angiogenesis property. For continuous growth of the tumor, the tumor cells require the supply of blood which is supplied by the blood vessels.

This proliferation of the network of blood vessels eventually turns into cancerous growth, as there is a continuous supply of nutrients and oxygen to the cells of the tumor.

Curcumin has the ability of anti-angiogenesis which is the formation of the new blood vessels, thus, it inhibits the new blood vessels from forming.

This removes the blood supply from the tumor growth and due to lack of blood supply, the tumor eventually dies.

It has been reported that the tumor cells have been detected with elevated levels of inflammatory chemokines like IL-8. These chemokines are basically cytokines which trigger the migration of leukocytes and activating the inflammation in the tumor growth.

Curcumin suppressed the formation of these chemokines by the tumor cells. In addition to this curcumin also inhibited the tumor cell adhesion molecules.

Adhesion molecules of the cell are proteins which are vital for binding of the cells to each other and other molecules.

Cell surface adhesion molecules like vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecule-1, etc. are important for tumor metastasis.

Curcumin blocked the expression of these adhesion molecules since the expression of these molecules is controlled by NF-kB activation.

Metastasis is known as the process through which the tumor cells move or migrate from the tissue of origin to other parts of the body through the blood vessels and form malignant tumor growth in other tissues or organs.

Curcumin, in addition to other properties, also possess anti-metastatic property which prevents these tumor cells from migrating to other organs and tissues.

It has been reported in a study carried out on rat models that had kidney and liver tumors that on treatment with curcumin the metastasis reduced of the tumors to the other sites in the body.

Dosage

There is no specific dosage for children as there are no studies regarding turmeric supplements in children. However, the dosage has been specified for adults.

The turmeric spice can be consumed in various forms.

The recommended dosage varies according to the form it is used in. The turmeric roots can be taken 1-3g per day in the dried powdered form. The cut root can be taken between 1.5 to 3 g per day.

The standardized powder containing curcumin should be taken approximately 400-600mg, preferably 3 times a day. It can also be consumed in the form of fluid extract, taking 30-90 drops per day.

Another form in which the spice can be consumed is in the form of tincture. About 15-30 drops should be taken regularly 4 times a day.

Curcumin is known to be a hydrophobic compound, thus making it difficult to dissolve in water.

This can pose a problem in the absorption of curcumin in the blood. This particular property of curcumin is known as the low bioavailability of curcumin.

However, this can be overcome by using black pepper or dissolving curcumin with fats like coconut oil, olive oil, linseed oil, etc. which increase the rate of absorption of curcumin.

For more details on dose, please read this article.

Precautions while taking turmeric

Under the recommended dosage, turmeric spice is safe for consumption as it does not have any harmful side-effects. It has been reported that various herbs on interaction with other herbs, medications, and supplements can cause side-effects.

Although turmeric is safe for daily consumption in stable amounts, if taken in high amounts regularly, it can result in ulcers in the stomach as turmeric is acidic in nature.

Most medical practitioners do not suggest the women who are lactating or pregnant to take turmeric.

The doctor also tells the patients with gallstones to avoid taking turmeric. Another property of turmeric is that it can act as a blood thinner, so taking it with blood-thinning medicines might increase the effect of these drugs.

Moreover, the drugs which reduce the acid in the stomach may not give the desired results as turmeric can interfere with these medicines resulting in the production of more stomach acid.

Turmeric also has the ability to lower the blood sugar level, thus if combined with diabetes medications, it can lead to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

Conclusion

Formation of tumors is the initial step which may lead to cancer. Curcumin, which is an important component of turmeric may play an important role in the treatment of all type tumors.

Curcumin is involved in multiple pathways which prevent the activation of the main factor- NF-kB, which trigger the formation of tumors.

In addition to this, if consumed regularly within the recommended dosage, curcumin can also prevent the tumor formation.

Curcumin has numerous properties like anti-angiogenesis, anti-oxidant and anti-tumorigenic properties which were together to treat the tumor formation.

Turmeric as spice has been used for thousands of years in Indian Ayurveda.

With the recent studies showing its numerous medicinal properties, curcumin has become up as one of the probable candidates for the treatment of cancer and tumor formation.

About the Author

Shruti (BE Biotech. & PGD Clinical Research)

Turmeric for Health's writer team consists of passionate writers from the fields of biotechnology, pharmacy, nutrition, Ayurveda & microbiology.Our writers are highly qualified with many having Ph.D., M.Tech & MSc degrees while others having B.Tech, BSc, B.Pharm. Our differentiation lies in researching and presenting ONLY FACTUAL SCIENTIFIC information. We spend 10s of hours to write a single article. Info of our articles is sourced from reliable scientific sources which are also provided as a link alongside for readers to refer if they want. You can read more about our team in the " About us" section.

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