Could Turmeric Compounds Help Stop Prostate Cancer?

Fight Prostate Cancer with Turmeric

Can a spice help prevent or treat cancer? Some researchers say that if you consider the role of chronic inflammation in cancer, than the powerful anti-inflammatory compounds in spices such as turmeric are certainly beneficial. (vi.403)

Prostate cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in the United States, and the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related death. In comparison, India has very low rates of prostate cancer. Some researchers suggest that their diet, high in spices and foods such as turmeric, black cumin, lycopene-rich vegetables, and whole grains may have something do with their low prostate cancer rates. (vi.403-405)

Conventional treatment can involve surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. However, since inflammation and androgen hormones are involved in prostate cancer, research suggests that combining these therapies with drugs that target inflammation and hormone receptors may make them more effective. (vi.403-404)

BPA & Prostate Cancer

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a compound found in many plastic containers, toys, water pipes, and food package linings. BPA causes harmful epigenetic changes to DNA. Animal studies show that BPA exposure in the uterus and after birth increases the risk of metabolic disorders and hormone-related cancers, including prostate cancer. Turmeric compounds (such as curcumin and quercetin) may help suppress BPA epigenetic changes that promote cancer. (vi.481-482)

How Can Turmeric Help?

One of the most common measurements for prostate health is prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a factor involved in inflammation. PSA levels also correspond to androgen hormone levels. Studies show that turmeric and its compounds can help lower elevated PSA and androgen receptor levels. (vi.403-404)

Turmeric and its compounds may also help control blood sugar and obesity. This is important because: (vi.213)

  • Chronic high blood sugar may increase the risk of prostate cancer. (vi.250406)
  • High blood sugar can lead to abnormal insulin levels, and some of the growth factors found in hyperinsulinemia are linked to increased risk of prostate cancer. Studies show that of turmeric compounds can help regulate these growth factors(vi.103250)
  • Obesity is linked to a greater risk of developing or dying from advanced prostate cancer. (vi.407)

Lab and animal studies suggest the following benefits of some turmeric compounds against prostate cancer include:

Table VI.45: Turmeric's Phytochemical and Nutrient Effects in the Prostate
Turmeric Compound Effects

Alpha-linolenic acid (vi.71)

(a polyunsaturated fatty acid)

Can help normalize insulin-like growth factors (i.e., IGF-1) linked to hyperinsulinemia and prostate cancer risk. (vi.406408)

Curcumin and curcumin analogs (vi.71)

Levels of detoxifying enzymes in the prostate gland. (vi.409)

Proteins that promote cancer cell death(vi.410)

Apoptosis in in both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate cancer cells. (vi.36410)

Proteins, kinase enzymes, tumor suppressors, and receptors that help induce apoptosis or cause cell cycle arrest in prostate cancer cells. Loss of some of these proteins has also been linked to poor prognosis. (vi.126227410)

Caspases, enzymes that induce apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. (vi.410)

Sensitivity of prostate cancer cells to radiation and chemotherapy. (vi.411)

Prostate cancer caused by some (but not all) possible carcinogens(vi.409)

Angiogenesis in prostate tumors. (vi.409)

Insulin-like growth factors linked to hyperinsulinemia and prostate cancer risk. (vi.103250406)

Activation of NF-κB and other inflammatory transcription and epigenetic factors(vi.35-36127324410)

Kinase enzymes that promote tumor growth. (vi.35324)

Elevated PSA levels (combined with soy isoflavones). (vi.412)

Androgen hormone receptors. (vi.412)

Proteins that help tumor cells survive(vi.410)

Growth factors and cell cycle proteins that promote tumor cell proliferation. (vi.56324410413)

Metastasis of prostate cancer to bones by stimulating production of a specific growth factor, BMP-7. This beneficial growth factor stimulates brown fat and blocks other growth factors that both destroy bone and feed cancer cells. (vi.414)

Elemene (vi.415)

Enzymes and proteins that increase apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. (vi.415)

Proteins that help tumor cells survive(vi.415)

Tumor cell proliferation. (vi.415)

Eugenol (vi.74)

Growth of prostate cancer cells. (vi.77)

Fisetin (vi.79)

Apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. (vi.410)

Caspases and tumor suppressors, which increase apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. (vi.81410)

Cell cycle proteins (and the kinase enzymes that activate them) that allow prostate cancer cells to proliferate. (vi.81)

Proteins that help tumor cells survive(vi.410)

Folate (vi.144)

Although in some instances high folate levels are associated with increased risk of prostate cancer, folate supplements are not linked to prostate tumor growth or progression. In fact, some studies suggest folate may be protective against prostate cancer. (vi.411)

Geraniol (vi.112)

Prostate cancer cell arrest and death(vi.416)

Sensitivity of prostate cancer to chemotherapy. (vi.416)

Androgen-independent prostate cancer growth. (vi.416)

Proteins that help cancer cells survive(vi.416)

Germacrone (vi.74)

Androgen hormone activity. (vi.415)

Limonene (vi.74)

Death of prostate cancer cells no longer responsive to hormone therapy. (vi.417)

Linoleic acid (vi.163)

Risk of prostate cancer, including low grade cancer (large clinical SELECT trial). (vi.418)

Myricetin (vi.79)

Cancer cell cycle arrest and death in various prostate cancer lines. (vi.194)

Phytosterols (vi.71)

Studies suggest both phytosterols in turmeric, beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol, can help block prostate cancer growth by regulating tumor suppressors(vi.419)

Quercetin (vi.79)

Kinase and metalloprotease enzymes that promote cancer spread in certain prostate cancer lines. (vi.78227)

Eating onions frequently, which are particularly rich in quercetin, has also been associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. (vi.250)

Resveratrol (vi.83)

Apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. (vi.410)

Proteins, kinase enzymes, tumor suppressors, and receptors that help induce apoptosis or cell cycle arrest in prostate cancer cells. Loss of some of these proteins has also been linked to poor prognosis. (vi.56126227410)

Caspase enzymes, which increase apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. (vi.410)

Sensitivity of chemoresistant prostate cancer cells to treatment. (vi.410)

PSA levels. (vi.227)

Androgen hormone receptors. (vi.410)

Insulin-like growth factors linked to hyperinsulinemia and prostate cancer risk. (vi.250406420)

Enzymes that activate pro-inflammatory factors(vi.410421)

Proteins and growth factors that help tumor cells grow and survive(vi.410421)

Enzymes that promote prostate cancer metastasis(vi.421)

Resveratrol also helps regulate transcription factors that enhance effectiveness of TRAIL therapy in inhibiting prostate tumor growth. (vi.421)

Vitamin C (vi.71)

Insulin-like growth factors linked to hyperinsulinemia and prostate cancer risk. (vi.420422)

Prostate cancer growth, alone and in combination with Vitamin E(vi.423)

However, in a large clinical trial, 500 mg/day vitamin C supplements do not appear to lower the risk of prostate cancer. (vi.423)

Vitamin E (vi.71)

Prostate cancer growth, alone and in combination with Vitamin C(vi.423)

In a large clinical trial, vitamin E supplements reduced risk of prostate cancer and mortality in those that had it. However, experts caution to not exceed 400 IU/day, since high doses have been linked to risk of heart failure and death. (vi.423)

Whole Ground Turmeric

PSA, when combined in a supplement with pomegranate, green tea, and broccoli. (vi.424)

Figure VI.30 - How Turmeric Compounds Stop Prostate Tumor Cells

Figure VI.30: How Turmeric Compounds Stop Prostate Tumor Cells (vi.35-367881103126-127194227250324406408-424)

Clinical Evidence of Benefit

Clinical Trial
Table VI.46: Prostate Clinical Study Results
Study Type Treatment & Study Length

Double-Blinded, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial

85 patients with elevated PSA(vi.412)

Curcumin and soy isoflavone supplement, once a day for 6 months. (vi.412)


The patients all had higher than normal PSA levels (of at least 10 µg/ml) and had undergone prostate biopsy before the beginning of the study. None of the trial participants had prostate cancer, but elevated PSA is a sign of chronic inflammation that increases the risk of cancer. (vi.412)

Compared to the placebo group and pre-trial testing, the curcumin-soy supplements significantly reduced PSA levels. They also suppressed the expression of androgen hormone receptors. (vi.412)

Study Type Treatment & Study Length

Double-Blind, Placebo-controlled Randomized Clinical Trial

199 patients with localized prostate cancer, ages 53-89 (134 in treatment group, 65 in placebo group). (vi.424)

Turmeric, pomegranate, broccoli, and green tea supplements, ground and in tablet form, or placebo, 3 times per day for 6 months. (vi.424)


PSA levels in the trial participants were tested at the beginning of the study, at 2 months, and at 6 months. On average, the PSA in those who took the turmeric-containing supplement dropped by 0.14%. In comparison, the average PSA for those on the placebo increased by almost 47%(vi.424)

Study Type Treatment & Study Length

Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Pilot Clinical Trial

40 patients with prostate cancer; 20 in the curcumin treatment group and 20 in the control group. (vi.425)

Curcumin - 3 g/day oral supplements in the treatment group (1000 mg with each meal) during 8 weeks of radiation treatment and for 12 weeks post-radiation. (vi.425)


One of the side effects of radiotherapy are urinary symptoms that can include: (vi.425)

  • Frequency of urination (day and night).
  • Urge to urinate.
  • Painful urination.
  • Unintentional leakage.

A greater number from curcumin group reported having to hurry more to get to the toilet, and more painful urination. However, overall the patients who took curcumin had significantly less urinary problems than those who took placebo. (vi.425)

Other side effects include bowel and sexual dysfunction. Although there appeared to be some benefit in terms of sexual function, this dose of curcumin did not significantly improve these symptoms. (vi.425)

Nigella sativa(ii.15)
Proteins that promote cell proliferation. (vi.4681)
A process referred to as angiogenesis(vi.89)
Proteins that trigger oncogene activity. (vi.39)
Glutathione-S-transferases (GSTs). (vi.409)
Specifically, Bax, caspase-3 enzymes, Bak, PUMA, Bim, Noxa, and DR4 and DR5 death receptors. (vi.410)
Such as CHK1, p21, p27, Bak, Bax, Bim, DR4, PUMA, Noxa, Bim, DR4, and DR5. (vi.126227410)
Such as Akt, AP-1, CBP, c-myc, and β-catenin factors. (vi.35-36127324410)
Such as mTOR, GSK-3, and IKK kinases. (vi.35324)
Prostate-specific antigen. (vi.412)
Specifically, Bcl-2. (vi.410)
Such as EGFR and HER2. (vi.56410)
Specifically, cyclins D1 and E. (vi.324413)
Caspases. (vi.415)
Poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) proteins. (vi.415)
Specifically, Bcl-2. (vi.415)
Specifically, p21 and p27. (vi.81)
Specifically, cyclin-D1, cyclin-D2, and cyclin-E. (vi.81)
Such as CDK-2, CDK-4, and CDK-6. (vi.81)
Specifically, Bcl-2 and XIAP. (vi.410)
Specifically, Bcl-2. (vi.416)
Specifically, proline directed protein kinase FA (PDPK FA). (vi.78227)
Such as metalloproteases MMP-2 and MMP-9. (vi.78227)
Such as CHK1, PKC-α, ERK1/2, p21, p27, p53, Bax, Bak, PUMA, Noxa, Bim, DR4, and DR5. (vi.56126227410)
Such as JAK, Pl3K, and Src kinases. (vi.410421)
Such as Stat1. (vi.410)
Specifically, cyclin D1, Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, survivin, and XIAP. (vi.410421)
Such as VEGF. (vi.421)
Metalloproteases MMP-2 and MMP-9. (vi.421)
Specifically, FOXO and Akt transcription factor. (vi.421)
Prostate-specific antigen. (vi.412)
Prostate-specific antigen. (vi.412)
Prostate-specific antigen. (vi.412)

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