Oral curcumin may benefit patients with cancers of the gastrointestinal tract

November 30, 2005

According to recent research, "curcumin is a polyphenol derived from the herbal remedy and dietary spice turmeric. It possesses diverse anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties following oral or topical administration."

Curcumin has shown the ability to affect the carrying out of genetic instructions in living cells, which subsequently directs protein manufacture, and has the ability to induce the spontaneous death of cancer cells in preclinical models. This may "be of particular relevance to cancer chemoprevention and chemotherapy in patients." When taken orally, curcumin is not absorbed enough in certain tissues to have a beneficial effect. However, it does achieve results in the gastrointestinal tract, which has been shown in animals and humans. This study is published in the European Journal of Cancer (Curcumin: The story so far. Eur J Cancer, 2005;41(13):1955-1968).

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

Hopefully none of us will encounter an agent as destructive as mustard gas, but it is good for us to note that these particular antioxidants are very lung friendly and that available oral supplement levels have shown protective activity in research.

Resveratrol protects the spine from damage

The abdominal aorta is a large blood vessel that supplies blood from the heart to the abdomen, pelvis and legs. If there is an aneurysm (a ballooning out of this artery like a weak spot on an old tire) in the aortic artery and it bursts it can lead to fatal internal bleeding. Surgery is often performed to repair an aortic aneurysm. Severe neurological injury is still one of the most devastating complications after this surgery. The blood supply to the spinal cord can be affected during this surgery leading to paralysis of the legs.

Sixteen rabbits had their abdominal aortic artery clamped for 30 minutes blocking the flow of blood to the spine; an experimental model of spinal cord trauma. The rabbits were split into 2 groups and received a large dosage of either Resveratrol or inactive placebo 15 minutes before clamping. The rabbits were assessed 8 hours, 16 hours, and 24 hours after the procedure. The Tarlov score is a test for locomotion and paralysis. The rabbits supplemented with Resveratrol had a much higher Tarlov score averaging 4.38 versus the rabbits on placebo who were near paralyzed with a Tarlov score averaging 0.38. The measure of free radical activity was almost 50% less in the Resveratrol group with a much lower measure of inflammation in the spine, and there was a much greater level of working brain-nerve tissue in the Resveratrol group. The study was performed at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Colombia University and is published in the December 2005 issue of the journal The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.