This surprising new study finds the ancient Indian spice turmeric selectively and safely kills cancer stem cells in a way that chemo and radiation can not…
This groundbreaking new study published in the journal Anticancer Research reveals that the primary polyphenol in the ancient spice turmeric known as curcumin, has the ability to selectively target cancer stem cells, which are at the root of cancer malignancy, while having little to no toxicity on normal stem cells, which are essential for tissue regeneration and longevity.
Titled, “[Curcumin and Cancer Stem Cells: Curcumin Has Asymmetrical Effects on Cancer and Normal Stem Cells](http://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/35/2/599.full.pdf+html),” the study describes the wide range of molecular mechanisms presently identified by which curcumin attacks cancer stem cells, which are the most lethal root of most if not all cancers. Because cancer stem cells are resistant to chemotherapy, radiation, and may even be provoked towards increased invasiveness through surgical intervention, they are believed to be responsible for tumor recurrence and the failure of conventional treatment.
###How Turmeric Only Kills Cancer Cells
[The study](http://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/35/2/599.full.pdf+html) identified the following 8 molecular mechanisms by which curcumin targets and kills cancer stem cells:
Down-regulation of interleukin-6 (IL-6): IL-6 modulates both immunity and inflammation. It’s over expression has been linked to the progression from inflammation to cancer. Curcumin inhibits IL-6 release, which in turn prevents cancer stem cells stimulation.
Down-regulation of interleukin-8 (IL-8): IL-8 is released after tumor cell death, subsequently stimulating cancer stem cells to regrow the tumor and resist chemotherapy. Curcumin both inhibits IL-8 production directly and indirectly.
Down-regulation of interleukin-1 (IL-1): IL-1 is involved in response to injury and infection and plays a key role in cancer cell growth and the stimulation of cancer stem cells. Curcumin inhibits IL-1 both directly and indirectly.
Decrease CXCR1 and CXCR2 binding: CXCR1 and CXCR2 are proteins expressed on cancer stem cells. Curcumin has been found to block binding to these two cellular targets.
Modulation of the Wnt signaling pathway: The Wnt signaling pathway regulates a wide range of processes during embryonic development, but are also dsyregulated in cancer. Curcumin has been found to have a corrective action on Wnt signaling.
Modulation of the Notch Pathway: The Notch signaling pathway, also involved in embryogenesis, plays a key role in regulating cell differentiation, proliferation and programmed cell death, as well as the functioning of normal stem cells. Aberrant Notch signaling has been implicated in a wide range of cancers. Curcumin has been found to suppress tumor cells along the Notch pathway.
Modulation of the Hedgehog Pathways: Another pathway involved in embryogenesis, the Hedgehog pathway also regulates normal stem cell activity. Abnormal functioning of this pathway is implicated in a wide range of cancers and in the stimulation of cancer stem cells and associated increases in tumor recurrence after conventional treatment. Curcumin has been found to inhibit the Hedgehog pathway.
Modulation of the FAK/AKT/FOXo3A Pathway: This pathway plays a key role in regulating normal stem cells, with aberrant signaling stimulating cancer stem cells, resulting once again in tumor recurrence and resistance to chemotherapy. Curcumin has been found in multiple studies to destroy cancer stem cells through inhibiting this pathway.
Curcumin exhibits a rather profound level of dexterity, modulating numerous molecular pathways simultaneously. Conventional chemotherapy is incapable of such delicate and almost “intelligent” behavior, as it preferentially targets fast-replicating cells by damaging their DNA in the vulnerable mitosis stage of cell division, regardless of whether they are benign, healthy or cancerous cells. Curcumin’s selective cytotoxicity, on the other hand, targets the most dangerous cells – the cancer stem cells – while leaving the normal cells unharmed.
###Turmeric Protects Normal Stem Cells
Healthy normal stem cells are essential for health because they are responsible for differentiating into normal cells that are needed to replace damaged or sick ones. If curcumin were to kill normal cells, like radiation and chemotherapy, it would not provide a compelling alternative to these treatments.
The study addresses this:
“The safety of curcumin has been long established, as it has been used for centuries as a dietary spice. The question arises as to why curcumin does not seem to have the same deleterious effects on normal stem cells normal stem cells as it does on cancer stem cells. There are several possible reasons that curcumin has toxic effects on cancer stem cells, while sparing normal stem cells.”
The study offers three explanations for curcumin’s differential or selective cytotoxicity:
*Malignant cells take in much more curcumin than normal cells.
*Curcumin alters the microenvironment of cells in such a way that is adverse to cancer stem cells and beneficial to normal stem cells.
*Curcumin may not only directly attack cancer stem cells, but may encourage them to differentiate into non-lethal, more benign cells.
Turmeric and its components are not FDA approved drugs, and by definition the FDA will not allow an unapproved substance, natural or synthetic, to prevent, treat, diagnosis or cure a disease. This means that you will probably not see it offered by an oncologist as an alternative to chemotherapy or radiation any time soon.