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Curcumin Reduces Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Conventional cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can create multiple complications and side effects while it does its work of stopping tumors. Curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound from turmeric, has been shown to reduce the risk of cancers, but also to improve the effectiveness of conventional approaches and improve the quality of life for those going through the treatments.

For example, patients undergoing radiation therapy for lung, colon, stomach, ovarian, kidney, and liver cancers, and receiving 500 mg of curcumin daily for 60 days saw fewer instances of weight loss, diarrhea, nausea, and constipation. It also reduced side effects including mouth and throat ulcers, skin lesions, and problems with swallowing.

Other work has shown similar results. In another clinical study, sixty-one patients received either 500 mg of curcumin blended with turmeric essential oil (BCM-95) three times daily or placebo throughout four weeks of radiation therapy for head and neck cancer.

The severity of mucositis symptoms (swelling, redness, and ulcers in the mouth) measured in this study ranged along a scale from no complications (Grade 0) to severe (Grade 3). By week four, there were clear differences between the two groups as indicated by which one experienced the most severe symptoms. A majority of those in the curcumin group (73.3 percent) held the line at the least severe symptoms for all four weeks of the study.

Additionally, curcumin has anticancer activity of its own. It slows the process of tumor formation and activates the signals in the body that kill cancer cells, a process called apoptosis. Curcumin can also stop the multitude of conditions that can lead to cancer: inflammation, oxidation, DNA damage, and the cell-signaling that creates the susceptibility to tumors and the spread of the disease.

When looking for curcumin as a supplement, keep in mind that plain turmeric and standard curcumin extracts have very little absorbability. That’s why researchers frequently choose enhanced curcumin for clinical trials. By combining curcumin with turmeric oil, the compound is much better absorbed through the intestinal walls and into the bloodstream. Turmeric essential oil is also a source of compounds called turmerones, particularly ar-turmerone, which is also an anti-inflammatory component in the botanical.


Mansouri K, Rasoulpoor S, Daneshkhah A, Abolfathi S, Salari N, Mohammadi M, Rasoulpoor S, Shabani S. Clinical effects of curcumin in enhancing cancer therapy: A systematic review. BMC Cancer. 2020 Aug 24;20(1):791. doi: 10.1186/s12885-020-07256-8. PMID: 32838749; PMCID: PMC7446227.

Background: Curcumin is herbal compound that has been shown to have anti-cancer effects in pre-clinical and clinical studies. The anti-cancer effects of curcumin include inhibiting the carcinogenesis, inhibiting angiogenesis, and inhibiting tumour growth. This study aims to determine the Clinical effects of curcumin in different types of cancers using systematic review approach.

Methods: A systematic review methodology is adopted for undertaking detailed analysis of the effects of curcumin in cancer therapy. The results presented in this paper is an outcome of extracting the findings of the studies selected from the articles published in international databases including SID, MagIran, IranMedex, IranDoc, Google Scholar, ScienceDirect, Scopus, PubMed and Web of Science (ISI). These databases were thoroughly searched, and the relevant publications were selected based on the plausible keywords, in accordance with the study aims, as follows: prevalence, curcumin, clinical features, cancer.

Results: The results are derived based on several clinical studies on curcumin consumption with chemotherapy drugs, highlighting that curcumin increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy which results in improving patient's survival time, and increasing the expression of anti-metastatic proteins along with reducing their side effects.

Conclusion: The comprehensive systematic review presented in this paper confirms that curcumin reduces the side effects of chemotherapy or radiotherapy, resulting in improving patients' quality of life. A number of studies reported that, curcumin has increased patient survival time and decreased tumor markers' level.

Here is the link to the complete article: Clinical effects of curcumin in enhancing cancer therapy: A systematic review

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Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.
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