Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American males. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a simple spice that could help men better protect their prostates? Well, there just may be in the form of a spice that is commonly used in Indian cuisine. Curcumin is a phytochemical found in the bright yellow spice turmeric, which is one of the traditional spices used in making curries. It should not be confused with the spice cumin- there is no curcumin found in cumin. In recent years there has been a growing interest in this spice compound thanks to its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. One specific area of interest where there has been an increasing amount of research conducted is in the area of prostate cancer.
In addition to being an anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant, curcumin actually targets multiple cellular receptor sites important in prostate cancer that enhance cancer activity. For example, curcumin inhibits prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and inhibits cellular pathways needed for prostate cancer cells to continue spreading. It inhibits the expression of proteins whose job is to prevent the death of cancer cells. These ornery little proteins are partly responsible when a patient does not respond to treatment and the presence of curcumin helps keep the nasty proteins from doing their job.
A 2012 study published in Cancer Research and conducted by Karen Knudsen, PhD at Thomas Jefferson University found that curcumin helps inhibit the activity of proteins that work against a specific type of cancer treatment therapy. With the help of these proteins, tumor cells can sometimes get around the therapy, but curcumin helps suppress these proteins and may be able to help enhance the cancer treatment therapy.
The role of curcumin in prostate cancer prevention and therapy is still in the early stages of research, but it sure would not hurt to add a little spice to your diet on a regular basis. Instead of plain chicken salad why not enjoy curried chicken salad, or curried sweet potatoes instead of brown sugar? It may do your prostate good!
PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e35368. Epub 2012 Apr 16.
OMICS. 2012 Jun;16(6):289-300. Epub 2012 Apr 4.
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