Turmeric Compounds Can Stop Tumor Growth and Kill Cancer Cells

Lab and animal studies indicate that compounds in turmeric (such as curcumin) stop cancer cells from progressing through the cell cycle. Turmeric compounds work via a variety of mechanisms that result in cell cycle arrest or cell death. The phase the cell is stopped in depends on the type of cancer and the form of or compound in turmeric: (vi.293651717478-79105112135138160)

Figure VI.6: Cancer Cell Arrest by Turmeric Compounds

Figure VI.6: Cancer Cell Arrest by Turmeric Compounds

Some of the way curcumin works include: (vi.293651105135160-162)

  • Promoting tumor suppressors such as p16, p21, and p27 that block cell cycle proteins (cyclins).
  • Upregulating cyclin B to induce mitotic catastrophe in certain cancers,
  • Inhibiting kinases (CDKs) and phosphatase enzymes (e.g., cdc25a and b) from activating proteins needed for the cell cycle.

This stops cancer cells from replicating and proliferating. The specific phase or phases that turmeric's curcumin inhibits malignant growth is also cancer-specific: (vi.1638-394251135161-162)

Figure VI.7: How Curcumin Prevents Cancer Cells from Proliferating

Figure VI.7: How Curcumin Prevents Cancer Cells from Proliferating

Mechanisms of Cancer Cell Death Instigated by Turmeric Compounds

Turmeric compounds stimulate proteins that trigger different types of cancer cell death: (vi.2)

Research shows that curcumin could be particularly useful because it engages more than one mechanism to kill cancer cells. Because it does so, curcumin has the advantage of avoiding the resistance many tumors develop to cell death. (vi.2)

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