Turmeric may help prevent and treat liver cancer.

Natural Turmeric Help to Prevent and Treat Liver Cancer

Research suggests that turmeric and its compounds could help prevent liver cancer. This is good news, since rates of hepatocellular carcinoma (also known as hepatoma) are increasing. Hepatocellular carcinoma is aggressive and is the most common type of cancer that first develops in the liver. Symptoms may include upper abdominal pain, swollen abdomen, and/or jaundice. (vi.1664240326)

The curcumin compounds in turmeric may also help treat cholangiocarcinoma. This highly aggressive, often fatal tumor grows in cells that line the bile ducts, which are part of the liver's biliary system(vi.137)

Risk Factors for Liver Cancer

Inflammation and chronic injury (technically called cirrhosis) which lead to fibrotic scarring cause most cases of liver cancer. (vi.64)

Risk factors that can lead to liver fibrosis include:

For cholangiocarcinoma, risk factors include: (vi.4137)

Treating Liver Cancer is Difficult

Surgery is considered the best treatment, especially if the cancer is caught early. Unfortunately, tumors in the liver and cholangiocarcinoma are rarely discovered at that point. In fact, only about 10% of patients with cholangiocarcinoma, and 10-30% of those with hepatocellular carcinoma, even have a surgical treatment option. This is because the cancer is usually caught after it has spread throughout the liver or bile ducts and beyond. (vi.64137326)

Even in those where surgery is an option, both types of cancer frequently recurs and the prognosis is usually poor. About 20% of patients with liver cancer show some response to chemotherapy, but it does not improve survival rates. (vi.64137326)

How Turmeric Works Against Liver Cancer

The nutrients and polyphenols in turmeric can help keep the liver healthy and functioning well. This is particularly important because cancer in the liver is most often caused by scarring or chronic injury related to infection, toxins, or disease. (vi.64)

In addition, turmeric and its compounds also show antitumor effects specifically against liver cancer cells. Some of turmeric compounds work similarly to FDA-approved chemotherapy drugs(vi.678184137275327330-331)

How Turmeric's Compounds Stop Liver Cancer Cells

How Turmeric's Compounds Stop Liver Cancer Cells

Turmeric and Turmeric Compound Antitumor and Chemopreventive Effects
Turmeric Compound What It Does

Ar-turmerone (vi.330)

Question: How does ar-turmerone fight liver cancer?


Caffeic acid (vi.74)

Question: How does caffeic acid fight liver cancer?

Answer: Research shows caffeic acid suppresses MMP-9, enzymes that promote invasiveness. (vi.78275)

Calebin-A (vi.306)

Question: How does calebin-A, a protein in turmeric, fight liver cancer?

Answer: Calebin-A blocks the growth of liver cancer cells and triggers cancer cell death even better than curcumin. (vi.332)

Curcumin (vi.74)

Question: How does curcumin fight liver cancer?


  • Curcumin increases apoptotic cell death in liver cancer cell lines by stimulating production of caspase enzymes and death receptors(vi.137)
  • Curcumin promotes beneficial transcription factors that produce natural antioxidants and/or block growth of tumor cells, including liver cancer. (vi.137)
  • By boosting levels of detoxification enzymes, curcumin helps prevent DNA damage and liver tumors. (vi.240)
  • Curcumin blocks entry of all major types of hepatitis C into liver cells. (vi.333)
  • Curcumin down-regulates production of oncogenes, transcription and epigenetic factors, and cytokines that promote liver cancer cell growth. (vi.240275)
  • Curcumin suppresses enzyme activity of growth factor receptors that promote cancer growth. (vi.275)
  • Curcumin decreases levels of inflammatory enzymes and growth factors that promote new blood vessel growth that feed cancer cells. (vi.67)
  • Curcumin suppresses production of MMP-9, enzymes expressed in highly invasive liver cancer cells. (vi.275)
  • Curcumin blocks survival proteins that help cancer cells resist natural cell death mechanisms. (vi.137)
  • Curcumin suppresses angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels that allow tumors to grow and are necessary for them to spread). (vi.16)
  • In animal studies, curcumin blocks metastasis of liver tumors. (vi.240)
  • Oral administration of curcumin (in animal studies) also significantly inhibits the liver-cancer causing effects of toxins. It reduces both the incidence of hepatocarcinoma (by 62%) and the number of tumors (by 81%). (vi.16)

Eugenol (vi.74)

Question: How does eugenol fight liver cancer?

Answer: Eugenol is an antioxidant compound that helps prevent liver cancer caused by toxins(vi.78)

Farnesol (vi.110)

Question: How does farnesol fight liver cancer?


  • Farnesol helps prevent DNA damage from carcinogens. (vi.111)
  • Farnesol inhibits the development of liver cancer by blocking metabolism of toxins(vi.111)
  • Farnesol reduces the number and size of precancerous lesions. (vi.111)
  • Farnesol inhibits the growth of liver cancer cells by arresting them in the G phase of the cell cycle. This stops the cancer cells before they get to the S phase where they replicate. (vi.111)

Ferulic acid (vi.138)

Question: How does ferulic fight liver cancer?

Answer: Ferulic acid blocks the growth of liver tumors and increases apoptosis in liver cancer cells. (vi.334)

Geraniol (vi.112)

Question: How does geraniol fight liver cancer?


  • Studies suggest geraniol boosts cancer cell death in patients with liver cancer. (vi.78)
  • Geranol helps block the development of liver cancer. (vi.85)
  • Geraniol inhibits the growth of liver cancer. (vi.111)

Limonene (vi.74)

Question: How does limonene fight liver cancer?


  • Limonene boosts natural antioxidant protection. (vi.134)
  • Limonene helps block carcinomas caused by chemical toxins(vi.124)

Myricetin (vi.79)

Question: How does myricetin fight liver cancer?


  • Myricetin inhibits the growth of liver carcinoma cells. (vi.194)
  • Myricetin promotes the death of liver cancer cells. (vi.194)

Protocatechuic acid (vi.146)

Question: How does protocatechuic acid fight liver cancer?

Answer: Protocatechuic acid promotes tumor suppressors and kinase enzymes that suppress liver cancer cell growth. (vi.334)

Quercetin (vi.79)

Question: How does quercetin fight liver cancer?


  • Quercetin boosts production of Nrf-2, a transcription factor protein that activates natural antioxidants. (vi.84)
  • Quercetin blocks damage to liver cells from free radicals(vi.84)
  • Quercetin promotes tumor suppressor proteins(vi.81)
  • Quercetin inhibits tumor cell growth. (vi.131)
  • Quercetin suppresses MDR1, a gene that promotes resistance to chemotherapy treatment. (vi.131)
  • Quercetin increases death of liver cancer cells. (vi.194)
  • Quercetin promotes tumor-killing effects of 5-fluorouracil, paclitaxel, TRAIL, and carboplatin and liver cancer cell lines. (vi.334)

Resveratrol (vi.83)

Question: How does resveratrol fight liver cancer?


Whole Turmeric

Question: How does whole turmeric fight liver cancer?


    • In lab studies, turmeric inhibited 80% of DNA mutations caused by aflatoxin B-1 (a fungal metabolite found in many grains and spices). Higher concentrations of curcumin showed even better results. (vi.26328)
    • In animals exposed to aflatoxin B-1, adding either turmeric or curcumin to the diet blocked precancerous lesions from forming. In ducklings given 5 µg/day of aflatoxin B-1, turmeric and curcumin both reversed the carcinogenic liver damage caused by the toxin. (vi.26328)
    • Dried, powdered turmeric rhizome blocks DNA mutations (which could lead to cancer) caused by aflatoxins(vi.336-337)

Turmeric Leaf Oil

Question: How does turmeric leaf oil fight liver cancer?

Answer: Turmeric leaf oil is toxic against aflatoxins from Aspergillus flavus, a fungus known to cause liver cancer. Main components are ρ-cymene, and terpinolene(vi.335)

Embolized Curcuma Aromatic Oil

Question: How does turmeric oil fight liver cancer?


In 32 patients with primary liver cancer, administration of turmeric oil by arterial infusion along with Chinese herbal medicine supplements resulted in: (vi.338)

  • 13 patients with partial remission (compared to 10 in the chemo-treated control group)
  • 1 patient with complete remission (none in the control group)

Although these results were not statistically significant, patients treated with the herbal therapies had better median survival times and greater 1-year survival rate. (vi.338)

Clinical Trial

Fermented Turmeric Supplements

Question: How does fermented turmeric fight liver cancer?

Answer: In a clinical study, fermented turmeric supplements normalized liver enzymes. Experts suggest this could help prevent liver disease. (vi.339)

Concerns with Using Quercetin and Curcumin Together

The effect of quercetin and curcumin in combination (as separate supplements) should be taken into consideration when treating liver cancers. Administered together, quercetin actually causes more free-curcumin to pass through the liver. It does so by binding to albumin in the plasma and membranes in the liver. Albumin is also a substance present in tumor cells, but binding to albumin prevents curcumin from crossing the cancer cell membrane and entering the malignant cell. (vi.340)

Human papilloma virus.
Cancers that begin elsewhere in the body often metastasize, or spread, to the liver. (vi.64)
Primary sclerosing cholangitis. (vi.137)
Such as axitinib, bevacizumab, dasatinib, pazopanib, sorafenib tosylate, sunitinib malate, and temsirolimus. (vi.275)
JNK and ERK. (vi.330)
P53 and Bax. (vi.330)
Caspases -3, -8, and -9. (vi.330)
HepG2, Huh-7, and Hep3B liver carcinoma cell lines. (vi.330)
HepG2 hepatoma cell line. (vi.332)
DR4 and DR5. (vi.137)
Such as Nrf-2 and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ). (vi.137)
Specifically, c-Met and c-Myc. (275)
Including HAT, AP-1, ARNT, HIF-1, STAT-3, and NF-κB. (vi.137)
Such as IL-6. (vi.240)
For example, tyrosine kinase activity. (vi.275)
Platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFRs). (vi.275)
COX-2 and VEGF. (vi.67)
Bcl-xL, Bcl-2, survivin, and cIAP-2. (vi.137)
P38. (vi.334)
JNK. (vi.334)
Specifically, p21, p27, and p53. (vi.81)
Specifically, p21 and p53. (vi.84)
COX-2. (vi.331)
Such as cyclin B proteins. (vi.331)

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