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Copyright 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
February 2012

Curcumin May Benefit Prostate Cancer Patients

Curcumin may help reduce tumor growth in prostate cancer patients who are receiving androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), according to a new study.

Prostate cancer is the uncontrollable growth of cells in the prostate gland. The prostate is part of a man's reproductive system, and is located in front of the rectum and under the bladder. It surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine flows. A healthy prostate is about the size of a walnut. The prostate makes part of the seminal fluid. During ejaculation, seminal fluid helps carry sperm out of the man's body as part of semen. Male hormones (androgens) make the prostate grow. The testicles are the main source of male hormones, including testosterone. The adrenal gland, located above the kidneys, also makes testosterone, but in small amounts. If the prostate grows too large, it squeezes the urethra. This may slow or stop the flow of urine from the bladder to the penis.

Prostate tumors are masses of prostate cells. Prostate tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors in the prostate are rarely life-threatening. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the abnormal growth of benign prostate cells. The prostate grows larger and squeezes the urethra, preventing the normal flow of urine. BPH is a very common problem worldwide. Malignant or cancerous tumors of the prostate are generally more serious than benign tumors and may be life threatening. Malignant tumors can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes, liver, bones, colon, and other organs. When caught and treated early, prostate cancer has a cure rate of over 90%. It is extremely important to be diagnosed early, and healthcare professionals recommend men 50 years of age and older get screened for prostate cancer.

In a new study, researchers studied the effects of curcumin in castration-resistant individuals with prostate cancer. They deprived prostate cancer cells of hormones and exposed some of them to curcumin.

The results suggested that curcumin exposure may help block the activity of receptors in the body that may work against ADT. This may help ensure that therapy is effective at targeting and slowing the growth of prostate tumors.

The scientists concluded that curcumin may help prevent ADT-sensitive disease from becoming castration-resistant, as well as reduce tumor growth associated with prostate cancer.

Turmeric is a spice, commonly used in Asian food, derived from the root of the turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) plant. The plant is a perennial herb and a member of the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family. Curcumin is the yellow-colored primary active constituent derived from turmeric and is commonly used to color foods and cosmetics. The rhizome (root) of turmeric has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat gastrointestinal upset, arthritic pain, and "low energy." Contemporary laboratory and animal research have indicated that curcumin may exert a number of potentially therapeutic effects. Examples include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiproliferative, neuroprotective, and insecticidal properties. However, clinical evidence for these benefits is lacking. It should be noted that the majority of research has focused primarily on the constituent curcumin, not extracts or other preparations of the whole spice.

Preliminary human evidence suggests possible efficacy in the management of several medical conditions including dyspepsia, osteoarthritis and hyperlipidemia. However, currently, high-quality clinical evidence for the use of turmeric in any human indication is lacking.

For more information about curcumin, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements database.

References

  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com.
  2. Shah SA, Prasad S, Knudsen KE. Targeting pioneering factor and hormone receptor cooperative pathways to suppress tumor progression. Cancer Res. 2012 Jan 18. View Abstract
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