According to several studies, turmeric extract also known as curcumin is nearly 100 time less toxic compared to chemotherapy. In addition, it was proven that curcumin eliminates colorectal cancer cells in sufferers more efficiently compared to the typical combo of pharmaceutical drugs.
UK researchers have recently managed to make a significant step forward in their efforts to find cure for cancer by showing for the first time that curcumin (turmeric extract) has the ability to improve the effects of chemotherapy in patients suffering from colorectal cancer and in addition, that this extract might be more efficient when it is used separately.
The study was released via the monthly edition of Cancer Letters. It was focused on the effects of curcumin as an agent derived from the diet. Curcumin is the basic polyphenol in turmeric and the basic goal of the scientists was to show that curcumin can improve the results of conventional chemotherapy.
The basic objective of cancer stem cells to spread cancer malevolency and their ability to fight off conventional cancer treatment were analyzed in this study.
Conventional cancer research techniques are centered on the ability of the treatment to lower the volume of tumor or the quantity of cells in a cancerous area to be more precise. In addition, the so-called cancer stem cell theory is emphasizing the fact that treatments provide different effects on different types of cells that are part of the tumor and that the benign cells of a tumor may be eliminated when chemotherapy is applied.
On the other hand, by following this procedure, cancer stem cells that are able to resist also known as mother cells in many cases increase their number after the therapy is finished. In other words, the number of cancer cells in general might be reduced, but the number of dangerous cancer cells might actually be increased.
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The main structure of study and all the results were summed up in a few sentences. In this study, scientists have used colorectal liver metastases or CRLM from patients in order to see whether curcumin is able to increase the effects of FOLFOX and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) in CSC or cancer stem cell models.
After that, they have used a combination of FOLFOX chemo and curcumin in a clinical trial through stage 1 dose escalation. A combination with curcmin and curcumin used separately has lowered the amount of spheroids in CRLM models and it has also lowered the quantity of cells that had excessive aldehyde dehydrogenase activity.
When curcumin was added to oxaliplatin / 5-FU, scientists have noticed improved pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative effects and reduction of the effects markers like CD133 and ALDH which are associated with stem cells. The so-called stage 1 dose escalation trial has shown that curcumin is a very safe addition to FOLFOX-based chemo in people suffering from CRLM at doses that don’t exceed 2 grams per day.
So, the researchers have found out that curcumin doesn’t come with side effects and it is very efficient addition to the treatment focused on colorectal cancer. They have also pointed out that this discovery is very important because this is the first time that someone has proven that curcumin has the ability to improve the results of chemo based on 5-FU and oxaliplatin in models that were retrieved from actual patients.
The most important part was that curcumin have inhibited the so-called spheroid formation which represents a 3D configuration of cells that is used as an indicator for the presence and progress of cancer. They have also proven that curcumin can stabilize and regulate markers related to cancer stem cells like CD166 and CD44 and many other chemical indicators related to the formation and progress of cancer.
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If we take all the activities we have mentioned together, we will realize that curcumin is able to target stem cells located in the center of the cancer.
However, what makes this new study even more interesting is the fact that researchers have realized that turmeric kills cancer. Curcumin actually provided better results when it was used on its own at least when it comes to the reduction of cancer stem cells that form spheroid structures. The use of curcumin has resulted in a significant reduction of the number of spheroids compared to treatments based on oxaliplatin and/or 5-FU.
For some reason, this incredible finding was mentioned in only few sentences in the study. If we take close look at the toxicological threats linked to agents used in chemotherapy like 5-FU for example which has an LD50 in lab rats of about 230 mg per kg and find that curcumin has an oral LD50 in lab rats of 12 grams, we will certainly realize how important this research is.
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Speaking technically, 5-FU is about 53 times more dangerous and toxic compared to curcmin and according to the same study way less ineffective (used in a combination with oxaliplatin) when it comes to elimination of cancer spheroids compared to curcumin. On the other hand, oxaliplatin has a LD50 in lab rats of about 100 mg per kg which means that it is more than 120 times more dangerous and toxic compared to curcumin.
It is obvious that studies like this show us the potential dangers of chemotherapy and how certain natural foods can be used as effective drugs. The researchers behind this project have concluded that curcumin may increase the effects of FOLFOX chemotherapy.
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Many experts agree with this conclusion and they highlight the fact that it was proven that curcumin can lower the side effects that come as a result of conventional treatment. However, is this everything that we can expect from curcumin? Why people don’t use curcumin as the primary method of healing? Researchers have pointed out that curcumin has better effects when it comes to targeting efficacy related to cancer stem cell and cancer suicide programs compared to 5FU and oxaliplatin which is a good starting point for future investigation and testing.
It is our belief that the use of curcumin should be thoroughly investigated in the near future because of these effects for the sake of cancer patients and the high number of fatalities that come as a direct result of conventional therapies. Now that we have proof that curcumin is effective alone and in combination with other means used for cancer treatment, there are no reasons why this research should stop.
This scientific study is a proof that these positive effects exist. The main obstacle is the funding (scientists need about 800 million US dollars to perform clinical trials. However, since curcumin doesn’t come with any side effects, many cancer sufferers have decided to include curcumin in their everyday diet. Of course, this type of testing requires time, but we will eventually see the effects even without scientific studies.
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In case you are still skeptical and wonder whether curcumin is actually useful, you can check our database and see all the healing properties of this natural remedy including why it is believed (and now confirmed) that curcumin as anti-cancer properties. The same goes for turmeric. We have many articles dedicated to turmeric and the health benefits that this spice can provide for cancer patients and people in general.