Frontiers in Anti-Cancer Drug Discovery

Volume: 12

The Beneficial Effects of Turmeric and its Active Constituent in Cancer Treatment: Current and Future Trends

Author(s): Giftson J. Senapathy, Blassan P. George and Heidi Abrahamse *

Pp: 37-67 (31)

DOI: 10.2174/9789811487385121120004

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


‘Turmeric’ (Curcuma longa L.) is an important spice found almost in every culinary preparation of Asian cooking, especially in India. This yellow rhizome is known for its medicinal and nutritional properties for many centuries and hence in Chinese and Indian traditional medicine it has been used for treating internal diseases and common ailments. It has various pharmacological properties including anticancer activity, which is mainly centered on its orange colored curcuminoid polyphenol called “curcumin”. Cancer is a deadly multifactorial disease originating from cells affecting many parts of the body in later stages. New cancer drugs and treatment methods become an everyday search due to the genetic complexity of the disease. Nowadays, natural products like turmeric are gaining importance as cancer therapeutics since their dietary intake reduces the cancer risk. In this chapter, the background, importance and pharmacological activities of turmeric and its chemical constituent curcumin were discussed with reference to the recent anticancer studies. Numerous reports are available on the anticancer potential of turmeric and curcumin. As reflected from these study results, curcumin was observed to inhibit the proliferation of cells, invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis in tumor cells. It increases the accumulation of free radicals through the reactive oxygen species resulting in apoptosis. It also sensitizes cancer cells for other cancer therapies. Due to its antioxidant and pharmacological activities, it can even reverse the cancer progression in the early stages. In contrast, the poor absorption limits its clinical use but the conversion into nanoforms improves its solubility. Curcumin is nongenotoxic and nonmutagenic and hence it is approved as a safe substance in various clinical trials.

Keywords: Anticancer, Antioxidant, Apoptosis, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Curcumin, Nutraceutical, Pharmacology, Phytotherapy, Signaling pathways, Turmeric.

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