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Home  /  Integrative Cancer Care  /  Body  /  Cancer Vitamins, Supplements and Herbs  /  Curcumin and Cancer

Curcumin and Cancer

What is curcumin?

Curcumin is a yellow active component of turmeric or curry powder. Available in many countries across the world and with other names such as Curcurma, Kurkuma, and Safran, curcumin has been a part of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.



What is the difference between curcumin and turmeric?

Both curcumin and turmeric have different colors and can be taken as either supplements or spices. Most importantly, the difference is that curcumin provides the direct significant efficacy against cancer compared to turmeric.

What are the curcumin health benefits?

A range of molecules offer benefits of turmeric. The principle active component in turmeric is the yellow pigment curcumin. Research indicates that curcumin in turmeric has a wide range of biological effects producing health benefits.

What are the curcumin anticancer benefits?

Curcumin for cancer activity inhibiting development (initiation), growth (promotion), and spread (progression). Curcumin blocks a number of cellular processes essential to cancer’s survival such as inhibiting blood vessels from supporting cancer growth through anti-angiogenesis and promoting cell death through apoptosis1,2,3.

Studies suggest that curcumin for cancer occurs in part through the inhibition of a cancer master switch called nuclear factor kappa beta explained in Inflammation and Cancer. A major mechanism through which inflammation fuels cancer involves the production and activity of nuclear factor kappa beta. Considered a master switch in cancer, studies suggest it accounts for approximately 95% of all cancers. Research indicates that nuclear factor kappa beta decreases cancer cell death (apoptosis) and increases cancer cell growth, blood supply to tumors (angiogenesis), invasion, and metastasis4-8. Nuclear factor kappa beta also fuels inflammation through COX-2 enzymes and cytokines such as interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and interleukin-8 (IL-8). Studies suggest that high levels of IL-6 are correlated with shorter survival in some people with cancer. Along with promoting cancer invasion, IL-6 stimulates vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) responsible for increased blood supply to tumors through angiogenesis5.

For More Information

  • Curcumin Research by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD
  • Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD
1. Ravindran J, Prasad S, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin and cancer cells: how many ways can curry kill tumor cells selectively? AAPS J. 2009 Sep;11(3):495-510. Epub 2009 Jul 10. Review. PubMed PMID: 19590964; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2758121.
2. Reuter S, Eifes S, Dicato M, Aggarwal BB, Diederich M. Modulation of anti-apoptotic and survival pathways by curcumin as a strategy to induce apoptosis in cancer cells. Biochem Pharmacol. 2008 Dec 1;76(11):1340-51. Epub 2008 Aug 3. Review. PubMed PMID: 18755156.
3. Aggarwal BB, Kunnumakkara AB, Harikumar KB, Tharakan ST, Sung B, Anand P. Potential of spice-derived phytochemicals for cancer prevention. Planta Med. 2008 Oct;74(13):1560-9. Epub 2008 Jul 8. Review. PubMed PMID: 18612945.
4. Anticancer by David Servan-Schreiber MD, PhD
5. The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 3rd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healingby Lise Alschuler, ND and Karolyn A. Gazella
6. Jeanne Wallace, PhD, CNC presentation at the 17th International Symposium on Functional Medicine, May 2010
7. Prasad S, Ravindran J, Aggarwal BB. NF-kappaB and cancer: how intimate is this relationship. Mol Cell Biochem. 2010 Mar;336(1-2):25-37. Epub 2009 Oct 8. Review.PubMed PMID: 19823771.
8. Aggarwal BB, Vijayalekshmi RV, Sung B. Targeting inflammatory pathways for prevention and therapy of cancer: short-term friend, long-term foe. Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Jan 15;15(2):425-30. Review. PubMed PMID: 19147746.