Turmeric against cancer
From its scientific name Curcuma longa, also called Indian saffron or spice of long life, turmeric is a spice with multiple health benefits, and it is widely talked about for its effects on cancer.
This is a serious and serious subject, which is why I will only cover what Western science says and very little about alternative medicine (which I don’t disapprove of, but I don’t want to offend anyone).
This article does not, of course, replace the consultation and advice of a doctor which is essential if you are suffering from cancer.
The remedies in this article are indicative, do not replace any advice from a doctor, and do not in any way engage the responsibility of the author.
The readers of L’ile aux épices know it, I do not hold in my heart the pharmaceutical industries, the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the ARC Foundation for research against cancer, and all the stakeholders. around this disease.
Conflicts of interest are far too important to be clear: a business supposed to heal people makes more money when people are sick, am I the only one seeing the problem?
The medical scandals about these actors are numerous, easily searchable (do your research), but are not the subject of this page.
However, it seemed fair to me to give you my general opinion so that you can judge my article in all objectivity, but also see the considerable efforts I have made to be as impartial as possible.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a spice rich in non-flavonoid polyphenols, curcuminoids, contained in curcumin.
It is this which gives the yellow color to the rhizome, as well as a good part of the health benefits of turmeric: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, anti-infectious, hepato-protective, and cardio-protective.
According to epidemiological data, the number of people affected by the most common cancers, colon, breast, prostate, and lung cancer, is lower in Asian countries where turmeric is consumed a lot than anywhere else in Asia. the world.
In fact, in India, there are reportedly fewer cancer cases per 100,000 inhabitants than in most countries in the world.
The frequency of the four most common cancers in the West, i.e. colon, breast, prostate, and lung cancer, is ten times lower.
Prostate cancer is even very rare there. According to some studies, this is due to regular and consistent consumption of turmeric.
Turmeric has been found in traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, as a natural remedy, and has been for thousands of years.
It is particularly known and recognized for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, hence the action of turmeric on joint pain, and as inflammation is a major factor in the appearance of many chronic diseases, turmeric is an ally to prevent them.
In addition, its antioxidant action helps fight against the action of free radicals leading to premature aging of cells and therefore resulting in diseases, including cancers.
Curcumin has been shown to influence the expression of over 700 genes, which may partly explain its many health benefits.
Western scientific research on turmeric and cancer:
Numerous studies have been carried out on turmeric to assess its action in the fight against cancer, mainly on rodents. Indeed, clinical trials carried out on humans, while very promising, are rather rare.
Among all the nutrients, it is turmeric that is the subject of the greatest number of scientific articles on its anti-cancer virtues.
General studies on preventive action
Numerous studies have been carried out on animals that have been exposed to carcinogens.
Those who consumed curcumin were less affected by several cancers: cancer of the lung, colon, stomach, liver, skin, breast, esophagus, lymphomas, and leukemia.
Clinical trials have been carried out, with promising results. In general, one trend emerges: the consumption of turmeric could be associated with a lower risk of developing cancer.
In a study carried out on at-risk patients with precancerous lesions, it was seen that taking 1 g to 8 g of curcumin per day for 3 months made it possible to regress the lesions.
Another study on intestinal polyps showed that 1.5 g of curcumin per day, combined with 20 mg of quercetin, reduced the size and number of intestinal polyps in patients with familial polyposis.
General studies on curative action
There are few results from current clinical trials, but they are encouraging.
Among the few results we have, a study has shown that 8 g of curcumin has, in some cases, stabilized the course of pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer.
These studies have shown that the low bioavailability of curcumin, poorly absorbed by the intestines and quickly eliminated by the liver, which is why many clinical trials focus on cancers of the digestive tract where the amounts of curcumin remain high ( see our article on the effects of turmeric on digestive disorders ) because it does not pass the intestinal barrier.
There are many treatments available to a cancer patient, and these treatments have several unwanted side effects.
Radiotherapy and chemotherapy, combined with the consumption of turmeric, would promote greater cell death while reducing the formation of metastases.
In addition, consuming turmeric would reduce the toxicity of treatments, including skin damage caused by radiotherapy during breast cancer.
Studies have shown that taking turmeric with good bioavailability has a positive effect on the general quality of life of patients with cancer, under treatment with radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Turmeric has shown an improvement in the efficacy of chemotherapy treatment, specifically based on methotrexate (Emthexate®, Ledertrexate®, Metoject®, Metothrexate®), based on docetaxel (Docetaxel®, Taxotere®, Tevadocel®), and on gemcitabine base.
It should be noted that according to some studies, turmeric has had negative effects on certain cancer treatments by reducing the effect of certain chemotherapies.
This was the case for cyclophosphamide (Endoxan®), for epipodophyllotoxins (Celltop®, Eposin®, Vepesid.®), as well as for treatments against breast cancer based on camptothecins. Further studies are needed to verify this interaction between turmeric and chemo.
Brain tumor studies
A 2011 study was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. The researchers formed two groups of mice with glioblastoma, a deadly type of brain cancer. One had curcumin supplementation, the other didn’t.
Result: the researchers observed a reduction in tumor size in 81% of the mice taking curcumin, without any side effects. In addition, curcumin only affected cancer cells and not healthy cells.
The scientists said: “In summary, the data presented here suggest that curcumin is a potential agent for therapies for glioblastoma. ”
Breast Cancer Studies
A study published in 2008 in the scientific journal Cancer Prevention Research showed the inhibiting action of curcumin on the motility of breast cancer cells, and therefore on their spread.
Curcumin has had an inhibiting action on the functioning of alpha-6-beta-4 integrin, which is associated with the development of cancer by contributing to the resistance of cells to apoptosis, i.e. death. programmed cell cancer cells, and metastasis.
Another study showed that a mixture of curcumin and piperine would limit the growth of breast cancer stem cells, the most difficult to eliminate with conventional treatments.
Colon Cancer Studies
A study was carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Saint-Louis in the United States, to study the action of the combination of curcumin in turmeric, and silymarin in Milk Thistle, on colon cancer.
The results, published in the medical journal Journal of Cancer reveal, showed that the combination made it possible to stop the proliferation of cancer cells, their spread, and even increased their elimination.
In a 2014 study conducted at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, curcumin had previously shown a preventive effect, preventing cancer cell metastasis in colon cancer while supporting the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.
Pancreatic and Lung Cancer Studies
Two similar studies on the effect of curcumin on pancreatic and lung cancer, conducted in 2009 and published in the scientific journal Molecular Pharmacology, observed that curcumin inhibits the growth of pancreatic and lung cancer cells, promotes their death, and increases the sensitivity of cells to chemotherapy.
Cancer stem cell studies
An in vivo test was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan Cancer Center in the United States, by putting curcumin + piperine in a culture of cancer cells. Result: the number of stem cells was reduced while normal cells are spared.
One of the theories that explain why cancer can recur, despite apparently effective treatment, is stem cells, which are not eliminated by conventional chemotherapy.
Even if all the cancer cells were eliminated, it would only take a few cancer stem cells to form colonies of new cancer cells again.
Studies are being carried out in the laboratory of the University of Michigan, on the effect of curcumin and piperine on breast cancer.
One of the latest studies has shown that the concentration of the curcumin + piperine mixture obtained through food is capable of eliminating breast cancer stem cells, without harmful effects for normal cells.
Dr. Kakarala says: “This study shows that these compounds are not toxic to normal breast tissue. […] Women who are at high risk for breast cancer today may choose to take a drug like tamoxifen or raloxifene for prevention, but most women don’t take them because their side effects are too much. important. The idea that a dietary compound can help is appealing, and curcumin and piperine appear to have very low toxicity. ”
Another advantage of turmeric over these preventive drugs is its action on all stem cells of all cancers, while preventive treatments only act on estrogen-sensitive cancers.
From studies, it appears that the curcumin in turmeric works against cancer cells in 7 ways,:
• Inhibits tumor cell proliferation
• Inhibits the synthesis of a protein considered essential for tumor formation
• Promotes the production of enzymes that help the body rid itself of cancer cells
• Decreases inflammation
• Helps the body destroy mutant cells and prevent them from spreading
• Inhibits the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells
• Prevents the development of blood vessels nourishing the tumor
Some researchers have speculated that curcumin is an inhibitor of the proteasome, a set of proteins that destroy used or unnecessary proteins in cells.
Proteasome inhibitors are already used for the treatment of cancer: bortezomib, ixazomib, and carfilzomib.
In an article in Pans, researchers at the University of California at San Diego, in collaboration with Chinese researchers, describe how curcumin binds to an enzyme called DYRK2, which affects the functioning of the proteasome, and therefore reduces cancer progression.
Jack Dixon, professor at the university, explained in a statement: “Our results reveal an unexpected role of curcumin in the inhibition of the DYRK2-proteasome complex.
Our main goal is to develop a chemical compound that can target DYRK2 in patients with these cancers (triple-negative breast cancer and multiple myeloma) ”.
Studies have shown that in addition, curcumin acts synergistically with another proteasome inhibitor, carfilzomib.
Thus, this combination promotes apoptosis of cancer cells (programmed cell death) and results in higher cancer cell death, without affecting healthy cells.
Indeed, there are many forms of turmeric, and many differences between each, we have written an article explaining how to choose the right turmeric, to buy the right turmeric for your needs. To summarize, you can take turmeric in its original form (root or powder), or processed turmeric products.
As part of the aid in the fight against cancer, your choice will be:
• A food supplement extracted from turmeric: choose a food supplement with 100% curcumin, containing at least 95% curcuminoids, without any additives or excipients, with a manufacturer’s guarantee on the quality of the production chain: place and method of cultivation, harvesting, production, and packaging of the final product.
• A quality turmeric powder: choose a powder rich in curcumin, with a good quality of production chain: place and method of cultivation, harvest, production, and packaging of the final product.
According to naturopaths, a typical anticancer dosage can reach 3 g of a good bioavailable extract of curcumin, between 3 and 4 times a day.
To be effective, it is necessary to consume high doses of curcumin, because it is not very bioavailable, that is to say, that it is not well absorbed by the body, or else to consume curcumin associated with an increasing ingredient. bioavailability, such as piperine in pepper, or a lipid such as a coconut oil.
Two tips to increase the bioavailability of curcumin:
• 1 tablespoon of curcumin powder
• 1 egg yolk
• 1 teaspoon of melted coconut oil
• Melt the coconut oil if it is solid, then mix all the ingredients.
• Using a blender, blend the mixture to emulsify.
• 1 tablespoon of curcumin powder
• 12.5 cl of water
When it comes to a boil, put the curcumin and let it boil for 10 minutes.
Let cool and it’s ready.
Thus, you create a solution titrated with 12% bioavailable curcumin. Be careful, the concentration of curcumin will gradually decrease, after 6 hours, the concentration will have halved, so drink it quickly.
This is not a dosage, but indicative information that does not replace consultation with a doctor who must be consulted.
With the little information on this subject, and because we do not have research to confirm whether these protocols are valid for all forms of cancer, we can only make assumptions about the dosage, based on medicines. alternatives. Anyway, turmeric is just a spice and not a medicine, we list the different uses of turmeric in a dedicated article.
In the following preparations, you will notice the association of black pepper (Piper nigrum) with turmeric.
As we mentioned, the downside of turmeric is its low bioavailability, which means that if you want to heal yourself with it, you have to consume large amounts of it!
By combining turmeric longa with black pepper, curcumin is better assimilated by the body. Piperine interacts with curcumin, and the properties of turmeric are multiplied, some say by 1000. This is the reason why in Indian tradition turmeric is mainly used in mixtures with other spices and always pepper…
I often say that piperine activates curcumin. In addition, it is advisable to combine turmeric and pepper with a little fat, the latter also allowing the spice to be better assimilated by the body.
Turmeric is fat-soluble, by mixing it with fat, its bioavailability is increased.
In what proportions to combine pepper with turmeric?
I generally recommend a ratio of 1 to 9: 1 dose of pepper to 9 doses of turmeric.
It should be noted here that depending on the desired effect, it is possible, even recommended, to add other spices to this mixture. In this case, I have read a method that I like very much, it is the 9-5-1 dosage: 9 doses of turmeric, 5 doses of another spice, and 1 dose of pepper.
For example, cinnamon for its benefits on diabetes: 9 doses of turmeric, 5 of cinnamon, and 1 of pepper. Ginger for its anti-inflammatory benefits: 9 doses of turmeric, 5 doses of ginger, and 1 of pepper.
Mix the spices well before consuming them, this will be all the more effective.
Add 2 to 3 g of turmeric powder per day and person in your culinary preparations. This corresponds to one teaspoon per person. This amount corresponds to approximately 200 mg of curcuminoids.
Combine the rhizome powder with a few pinches of pepper and if possible a little fat: olive oil, butter, etc.
To relieve inflammation, it is considered necessary to take the equivalent of 200 mg to 400 mg of curcuminoids, 3 times a day, which corresponds to 3 times the stated intake.
Infusion. Infuse 1 to 2 g of turmeric powder with 3 or 4 black peppercorns in 150 ml of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 2 cups a day.
You can also boil a turmeric root for 3 minutes, then let the decoction infuse for 10 minutes. Drink 2 or 3 cups a day. Also bet on the combination of turmeric and lemon, a beneficial combination.
To relieve inflammation, it is considered that you should take the equivalent of 200 mg to 400 mg of curcuminoids, 3 times a day, which corresponds to at least 3 g of turmeric, 3 times a day.
A good way to enjoy the benefits of turmeric is to drink Ayurvedic golden milk, this drink with coconut milk, coconut oil, turmeric, and pepper, is a concentrate of benefits.
This drink allows better bioavailability of turmeric because the spice is associated with pepper and a fatty substance.
A natural remedy used in Asia since the dawn of time, it begins to arrive in the West thanks to the development of alternative medicine: it is turmeric honey or golden honey!
It is a real panacea, we use it in prevention by eating a teaspoon every morning on an empty stomach, or in a curative way as explained in our article dedicated to this spicy honey.
“Pure” curcumin and other drugstore products
If you want to consume and take a course of pure curcumin, or any other para pharmacy product based on turmeric, you must take advice from your pharmacist, or from the person who sold you this product. The dosage and all necessary advice are supposed to be stated on the package.
In any case, always consult the advice of your doctor before embarking on any cure whatsoever.
Like any product, turmeric has its share of contraindications and side effects, we have listed them in our article on the adverse effects of turmeric.
However, there are dangers in consuming turmeric directly related to cancer and its treatments.
The intake of turmeric should be considered with caution, or under the advice of a doctor, if it is combined with certain treatments: radiotherapy, platinum analogs, anthracyclines, and certain anti-tumor antibiotics (Bleomycin and Mitomycin). The minimum is to avoid taking turmeric on the days of treatment, as well as the two days preceding and following it.
As we have seen, as a precaution, turmeric is contraindicated in the event of treatment with cyclophosphamide (Endoxan), doxorubicin (Adriblastina®, Caelyx®, Doxorubicine®, Myocet®), camptothecins (Campto®, Irinosin ®, Irinotecan®, etc.), and doxorubicin (Adriblastina®, Caelyx®, Doxorubicine®, Myocet®).
Some conclusions and thoughts:
Of course not. It would be dishonest to hold out a miraculous cure for people with this terrible disease. The answer no is induced by the miracle term, turmeric is just a food. At the same time, the effects are there, but analysis of the reports of published and previously cited studies shows that further studies are needed.
These missing in-depth studies would simply be clinical trials on humans in greater numbers, with the development of specific protocols for the use of turmeric to treat cancer patients or to improve tolerance to chemotherapy.
The words which follow are binding on me and are only personal reflections.
This healthy, natural remedy, and effective if we are to believe the numerous studies carried out on the subject, has almost always remained confined to laboratories for no justified reason.
For millennia, turmeric has been consumed as a spice above all and without any concern for man, on the contrary, all civilizations have recognized it as a remedy. It is therefore quite astonishing to continue many studies in the laboratory and on animals for a product that is not harmful, except in very specific rare cases.
Why? My opinion is that the main culprits are the pharmaceutical companies and their hegemony in the healthcare world. It doesn’t take long to see that the listing of these companies is more important to them than people’s health.
It is not in the financial interests of drug companies to encourage human trials of a natural substance like curcumin.
For those who are interested, I recommend the books of Michel Donna, a former chemical engineer, and now a nature therapist, particularly his book “Take charge of your health”, in which he deals with a few black issues in the pharmaceutical industry.
When I talk about turmeric around me, people often ask me “but you, you have cancer, what do you do?” Do you eat seeds? “. Legitimate.
Difficult to project, but without a doubt, I would add turmeric to my daily life (well, it is already the case, you will tell me).
It is likely that I will follow the recommendations of the doctors, even if it means undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments, but associated with a course of turmeric, that’s for sure.
Why? Because it costs nothing! Safe, inexpensive, and certainly effective, the real question is why without it?
Nothing, absolutely nothing, can replace a healthy lifestyle, to avoid being touched by cancer.
Sugars, starches, and foods with high glycemic indexes
Foods with a glycemic index are the foods that stimulate insulin production the most, and insulin is a hormone that stimulates the growth of cancer cells.
Reducing their consumption, therefore, makes it possible to normalize the level of insulin in the blood, and therefore to drastically reduce the risk of developing cancer.
To reduce your consumption of sugar, cereals, starches, potatoes, white bread, and all foods containing a large amount of starch.
Numerous studies show that vitamin D deficiency plays a central role in the development of cancer cells. The results show that up to 30% of cancer deaths could be prevented each year by optimizing vitamin D levels.
Ideally, the vitamin D level should vary between 50 and 70 ng / ml, and the best way to maintain it is through the sun. Indeed, sun exposure can meet 80 to 90% of vitamin D needs, for you need:
• Exposure to the sun for at least 10 to 15 minutes
• Exposing yourself 2 to 3 times a week
• Exposure to the time of day when UV-B is most intense: between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
• Minimize exposure of hands, forearms, and face
• Exposing yourself without sunscreen on the skin
Be careful not to go so far as to burn the skin, because the harmful effects would then be greater than the benefits. These tips vary a lot depending on the color of the skin, white skin will require a shorter and less intense exposure than dark skin.
In countries and regions with low sunlight, the use of oral supplements is often necessary.
Practicing regular physical activity can greatly reduce the risk of cancer. This can be explained in many different ways, but mainly because exercise lowers insulin levels and normalizes anabolic hormones.
Studies have shown that physically active women see the risk of developing breast cancer reduced by 20 to 30% compared to inactive women.
Physical exercise should be frequent, ideally daily, and if possible, varied. One of the best activities: walking!
Decreased stress, anxiety, and any negative energy lead to well-being that is conducive to staying away from cancer.
Activities like yoga, meditation, prayer, or just reading, are very effective for this.
A diet rich in vegetables, preferably organic, is a diet to be favored to avoid cancer, particularly colored vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and crucifers (cabbage, radish, etc.).
Favor gentle cooking methods: poaching, steaming, boiling, and avoid barbecues, grills, and fried foods.
The environmental toxins we face every day are poisons, which can be aggravating factors in the development of cancer.
Among them, we find pollution of course, but also pesticides (especially in food), household chemicals, deodorants, atmospheric pollution, toxins from plastics such as bisphenol A and all the endocrine disruptors present in clothes, cosmetics, etc.
Some are inevitable, like pollution, but others can be avoided by carefully selecting your everyday consumer products.
Omega-3 fatty acids
It seems that a diet rich in Omega-3 can control inflammation and increase the effectiveness of the immune system to fight cancer cells.
It has been shown that being overweight correlates with an increase in the onset of cancer, so weight control, especially abdominal fat, is necessary.
Poor sleep is an aggravating factor in the risk of developing cancers. Getting enough sleep and in good conditions is not always easy, but it is nevertheless essential.