I wanted to write a short, very concise post showing multiple evidences of turmeric’s ability to prevent and treat breast cancer. And I did it!
Because I lost a dear friend and sister-in-law to cancer treated with surgery, chemo and immunotherapy this spring, this topic remains hot on my mind.
We need to look at cancer through a new lens.
Why certain types of cancers are more prevalent in some countries than others is not clear, but lifestyle including diet, is known to play major role. Among the potential dietary contributors is turmeric (Curcuma longa), a spice that is consumed frequently by people from India and southeast Asia, countries with low incidence of most cancers. (source)
After skin cancer, breast cancer affects the most number of people.
- Lobular carcinomas
- The rare, aggressive inflammatory breast cancers
- And the most common type of breast cancer which occurs in the milk ducts, called ductal carcinoma
Breast cancer is then classified into one of three types. Estrogen receptor or progesterone receptor positive (ER/PR), HER2 positive and possibly the most dangerous one: triple negative.
Curcumin has been found to play an important role in all types of breast cancer including inhibition, treatment, and post-therapy prevention of cancer to keep it from recurring. It also helps ease symptoms in numerous ways.
A growing number of laboratory studies on cancer cells have shown that curcumin seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. We see the best effects on breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells. (source)
Turmeric’s Direct Effect On Breast Cancer
1. Curcumin Can Prevent Breast Cancer Before It Becomes a Thing.
An important ability of a cell is to regulate its own healthy cellular division. Telomerase is an enzyme that is responsible for allowing cells to divide nonstop as we see in active tumors. Telomerase is generally not observed in healthy cells so that the cells die after a limited number of replications.
Targeting Breast Stem Cells With The Cancer Preventive Compounds Curcumin and Piperine, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, Vol. 122, Issue 3
“Curcumin has been shown to inhibit the proliferation and survival of almost all types of tumor cells.” Curcumin and Cancer Cells: How Many Ways Can Curry Kill Tumor Cells Selectively? (PubMed)
2. Curcumin Targets and Kills Breast Cancer Cells By the Following Molecular Mechanisms:
— Curcumin from turmeric controls division of cancer cells – Curcumin Shows Inhibitory Effects on the Growth of Human Breast Cancer MCF-7 Cells Induced by Estrogenic Pesticides, (PubMed)
“Curcumin is a potent enhancer of TRAIL-induced apoptosis through upregulation of DR5 expression.” (PubMed)
— Curcumin regulates the signaling pathways in cancer cell:
Curcumin has been found to inhibit the NF-?B pathway in the cancer cells, which ultimately controls the cell division, proliferation and the ability invade other tissues.
— Curcumin disrupts the cell division process in cancer cells:
One way of killing cancer cells is to force cells to abort the division process. An experiment has proven that curcumin does so by inhibiting spindle fiber formation.
— Curcumin inhibits metastasis in advanced breast cancers:
–8 molecular mechanisms by which curcumin targets and kills cancer stem cells:
As you can see, turmeric (curcumin) exhibits an amazing level of complexity, modulating countless molecular pathways simultaneously. Conventional cytotoxic (toxic to living cells) chemotherapy is not capable of such delicate and “intelligent” behavior, as it preferentially targets fast-replicating cells by damaging their DNA in the vulnerable mitosis stage of cell division, regardless of whether they are cancerous, benign or healthy. Curcumin’s selective cytotoxicity, on the other hand, targets the most dangerous cells – the cancer stem cells – while leaving unharmed the normal cells.
3. Turmeric Eases the Symptoms of Breast Cancer
— Curcumin reduces multi-drug resistance:
Drug resistance is a very common problem during chemotherapy as the cancer cells being treated with chemicals develop resistance against them and fail to respond to the therapy. Discovering Natural Product Modulators to Overcome Multidrug Resistance (MDR) in Cancer Chemotherapy (PubMed)
— Helps in recovery from surgery:
Turmeric is an excellent postoperative painkiller with little or no side effects at all. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help a great deal in handling inflammation and swelling after surgery. Curcumin Treatment Attenuates Pain and Enhances Functional Recovery After Incision, (PubMed)
— Helps fight depression and fatigue
Is Turmeric Effective for All Kinds of Breast Cancers?
The answer is yes!
Though it does not correct BRCA gene, it does positively cause cell death in the cancer cells and positively inhibits the growth of the transformed cells in the breast. This also prevents the future tumor formation.
According to the traditional medical community, 2,000 mg. is the maximum amount of standardized turmeric curcumin you should take per day, yet multiple studies used up to 8,000 mg. without toxicity, if that tells you anything. Cancer would be one situation where more would be used.
Remember to always take turmeric with black pepper and a little ‘good’ fat to increase absorption! Here’s how.
I also purchase this brand to have capsules on hand and feel it’s very good quality.
I take 2 capsules/day unless I’ve overdone it and in pain – then I take 4/day = 4,460 mg./day.
Sometimes, taken over a very long time, this could cause skin problems, indigestion, nausea or vomiting. To put things in perspective, these are minor side effects as compared to potential side effects of anti-cancer drugs.
Turmeric should be avoided during pregnancy or breast feeding although women use goodly amounts of it in the Eastern cultures at any time.
Lastly, it is good to consult your doctor if you plan to include turmeric as a treatment for breast cancer.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…” ~Psalm 103: 2
Thanks for reading!