Can Turmeric Help with Bladder Cancer?

According to statistics published in 2010, over 71,000 Americans are diagnosed with bladder cancer a year. It also affects significant numbers of people worldwide. (vi.186-187)

Conventional treatment typically begins with surgery. However, many patients also receive postsurgical adjuvant treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and/or immunotherapy in order to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. These adjuvant treatments have known side effects and some have very little effectiveness. (vi.186-187)

Research suggests that the curcumin compounds in turmeric may help prevent bladder cancer from recurring, and could be a replacement for some of these adjuvant treatments. In animal studies curcumin has also been shown to increase the effectiveness of BCG therapy, currently one of the best treatment options for bladder cancer. (vi.187-188)

Figure VI.11: The Bladder

Figure VI.11: The Bladder

Types of Bladder Cancer

As the kidneys clean waste from the blood, the liquid part of it is stored in the bladder until urinated out of the body. Located in the lower stomach, the bladder is a hollow, pouch-like, muscular organ that adjusts size to the amount of waste. There are three types of bladder cancer. However, the vast majority of cases are transitional cell carcinomas that begin in the innermost transitional cells of the bladder. (vi.186)

The less common types of bladder cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. These cancers are associated with chronic infection, inflammation, and irritation in the bladder. (vi.186)

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

Possible signs of bladder cancer include: (vi.186)

  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful urination
  • Lower back pain
  • Frequent urge to urinate

What are the Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer usually affects people between 60-70 years old. The following environmental, lifestyle, and personal health conditions are considered possible risk factors for bladder cancer: (vi.186189)

  • Smoking cigarettes.
  • Ingestion of Aristolochia fangchi (an herb).
  • Eating deep-fried potatoes and breads cooked at high temperatures.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, such as coal soot or high levels of arsenic in drinking water.
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals related to occupation, such as dry cleaning or manufacturing textiles, paper, or rubber.
  • History of bladder or kidney stones.
  • History of bladder infections.
  • Long-term catheter use.

Turmeric Compounds May Help Prevent and Treat Bladder Cancer

Bladder Cancer Ribbon

Whole turmeric extracts, its main compound curcumin, and other natural compounds in turmeric have proven antibacterial, detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Research shows these could counteract some of the risk factors for bladder cancer by:

Studies suggest that other natural compounds in turmeric could also help treat bladder cancer:

Table VI.17: Effect of Turmeric Compounds on Bladder Cancer
COMPOUND STUDY RESULTS

CURCUMIN

MYRICETIN (vi.79)

  • Growth of bladder cancer cells. (vi.194)
  • Kills several different types of bladder cancer cells. (vi.194)

QUERCETIN (vi.79)

  • Stops growth of different lines of bladder cancer cells. (vi.131194)
  • Death of several types of bladder cancer cells. (vi.194)

Turmeric Compounds Improve Conventional Therapies

Animal studies suggest that the curcumin compounds in turmeric could significantly increase the effectiveness of conventional therapy for bladder cancer:

Table VI.18: Curcumin Enhances Bladder Cancer Treatments
CHEMOTHERAPY STUDY RESULTS

CURCUMIN WITH GEMCITABINE

  • NF-κB transcription factor proteins activated by gemcitabine. (vi.150)
  • In mice transplanted with bladder tumors, curcumin and gemcitabine reduced tumor volume. The effect was significantly greater than when gemcitabine was administered by itself. (vi.20)
  • Curcumin also decreased angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels that allows tumors to grow and metastasize(vi.20)

CURCUMIN WITH BACILLUS CALMETTE-GUERIN (BCG) INTRAVESICAL THERAPY

Development of new tumor-feeding blood vessels. (vi.89)
Development of new tumor-feeding blood vessels. (vi.89)
Control switches for phases of the cell growth cycle. (vi.106)
Control switches for phases of the cell growth cycle. (vi.106)
Proteins that promote cell proliferation. (vi.4681)
Proteins that promote cell proliferation. (vi.4681)
First responders that trigger gene activity. (vi.39)
First responders that trigger gene activity. (vi.39)
First responders that trigger gene activity. (vi.39)
Such as Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG vaccine). (vi.188)
TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligands (TRAIL). (vi.187)

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