Saturday, February 2, 2013

Curcumin: Food Chemical with Anti-Cancer ability in a Tumeric Diet

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous, herbaceous, perennial plant of the ginger family called Zingiberaceae. When not used fresh, turmeric rhizomes are boiled for several hours, dried in a hot oven and grinded into a deep, orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in curries. When used as a food additive, turmeric is mostly use in savoring dishes. Some of the foods which turmeric can be used include canned beverages, biscuits, sauces, yellow cakes, dairy products, soups, yoghurts and so on.

Research studies have tried to investigate the food chemicals found in turmeric to evaluate their potential effects on diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer and other clinical disorders. According to a 2012 report by the US National Institute for Health, about 71 clinical trials are currently registered to use the food chemical in turmeric for various clinical disorders. One research showed that this food chemical in turmeric reduced the severity of pancreatic-associated lung injury in mice.

As it related to healthy things to eat and anti-cancer diets, the food chemical of importance in turmeric is Curcumin. Curcumin has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter and hot peppery flavor, and mustard smell. It is believed that a 2 gram daily dose of this food chemical can provide pain relief that is equivalent to ibuprofen for pain associated with osteoarthritis. Another non anti-cancer property of Curcumin is it ability to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease due to its ability to reduce plaque formation on the brain. This food chemical can also inhibit cardiac hypertrophy and promote good cardiac health. It has also been found to increase insulin secretion for the pancreas, a process that is believed to be helpful for patients with insulin-related diabetes.

As a food chemical with anti-cancer activity, a study in 2008 reported that numerous human-based clinical trial of Curcumin is already underway. These studies are investigating the anti-cancer properties of Curcumin on various cancer-related diseases. These include multiple myeloma, pancreatic and colon cancers. In vitro studies have also shown phytoestrogenic activity of Curcumin that may contribute to activity against breast cancer. In both animal and in vitro studies, this food chemical has shown anti-cancer, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

There are several ways in which this food chemical, Curcumin, has been found to both prevent and fight cancer. Some of its anti-cancer properties are listed as follow

1.       One popular property of this food chemical in our anti-cancer diet is manifested in its ability to induce apoptosis of cancer cells without any cytotoxic effects on normal, healthy body cells.

2.       Another important anti-cancer property of this food chemical in our diet is its ability to modulate the growth of tumor cells. It does this by the regulation of a multiple cell signaling pathways. These pathways include cell proliferation, cell survival, capase activation, tumor suppressor, death receptor, mitochondrial and protein kinase. Abnormal activities of these pathways may lead to cancer formation and the anti-cancer activity of Curcumin modulates their activities.

3.       Curcumin can also through it anti-cancer property interferes with the activity of the transcription factor, NK-KB, which has been linked with a number of inflammatory diseases, including cancer. In immunodeficient mice with breast cancer, this food chemical is shown to inhibit the formation of lung metastasis through NF-KB dependent regulation. Similar reduction in the formation of lung metastasis has been observed in prostate cancer cells. It is believed that the inhibition of NF-KB leads to the down-regulation of cancer-promoting genes.


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