Turmeric May Help Reduce the Risk of Skin Cancer

UV radiation from the sun can damage skin, even for people with darker skin tones.

Skin Cancer and Wrinkles

Did you know that many of the factors that increase the risk of skin cancer are also linked to aging skin? Toxins, cigarette smoking, and especially UV radiation all cause skin damage that leads to wrinkles and uneven skin tone. The good news is that turmeric compounds could help keep your skin looking its best and healthy too! (vi.483-485)

With skin cancer rates on the rise, experts suggest that natural compounds can help protecting your skin inside and out. Studies show that using turmeric and its compounds (both nutritionally and topically) may be able to prevent or even treat skin cancer. In fact, cooking turmeric with coconut or olive oil transforms its curcumin compounds into even more powerful anticancer fighters. (vi.443-447)

Causes and Risk Factors for Skin Cancer

Skin cancer causes and risk factors include:

All of these factors increase the likelihood of DNA damage in skin cells that can lead to cancer. (vi.443)

How Can Turmeric Help Fight Skin Cancer?

Turmeric's curcumin compounds were tested in one small clinical study involving patients with precancerous lesions with a high risk of progressing to full-blown cancer. In the 6 patients with Bowen's disease of the skin, none progressed to malignancy during the 3 month study. Two of the patients actually showed improvement at the cellular level. (vi.8)

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric and many of its compounds help protect against free radicals, inflammation, and DNA damage that can cause or promote skin cancer. Combinations of compounds (as they are in turmeric and other foods) may also have a cumulative effect against cancer cells. In fact, studies suggest they may even work better together in suppressing cancer cell growth(vi.153443-448)

Turmeric's Phytochemical and Nutrient Effects in Skin Cancer
Turmeric Compound Effects in Preclinical Studies

1,8-cineole (vi.7172)

(also known as eucalyptol)

What effects does 1,8-cineole have against skin cancer?


Alpha-linolenic acid (vi.71)

(a polyunsaturated fatty acid)

What effects does alpha-linolenic acid have against skin cancer?

Answer: Alpha-linolenic acid protects skin against UV radiation damage. (vi.449)

Alpha-pinene (vi.7172)

What effects does alpha-pinene have against skin cancer?


Alpha-terpineol (vi.7174)

What effects does alpha-terpineol have against skin cancer?


  • Alpha-terpineol promotes the death of melanoma cells. (vi.153)
  • Alpha-terpineol suppresses growth of melanoma cells. (vi.153)

Ar-turmerone (vi.74)

What effects does ar-turmerone have against skin cancer?


Beta elemene (vi.415)

What effects does beta elemene have against skin cancer?


Borneol (vi.74)

What effects does borneol have against skin cancer?

Answer: When combined with curcumin, borneol increases curcumin's effectiveness in the following: (vi.448)

Caffeic acid (vi.74)

What effects does caffeic acid have against skin cancer?


  • Caffeic acid blocks free radicals(vi.55)
  • Caffeic acid suppresses tyrosinase enzymes in melanoma cells in melanoma cells. (vi.55)

Camphor (vi.74)

What effects does camphor have against skin cancer?

Answer:Camphor blocks DNA damage from UVC radiation. (vi.154)

Curcumin (vi.74)

What effects does curcumin have against skin cancer?


Both topical and oral doses of curcumin have been tested in lab and animal studies against skin cancer, especially melanoma. They suggest that curcumin can help prevent and treat skin cancer. Curcumin also works well with different chemotherapy drugs. Interestingly, in lab studies low doses of curcumin combined with exposure to visible light and UVA radiation significantly blocks melanoma growth. (vi.452)

Curcumin blocks expression of growth cycle proteins such as Ki-67 and cyclin D1, including in melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Research indicates that substances that suppress Ki-67 can stop cancer cells from growing and is a strong indicator of survival in melanoma. In an animal model of this aggressive type of skin cancer, curcumin suppressed levels of Ki-67 by itself, although the effect was much greater when animals were exposed to UVA radiation. This may be especially important in thick, nodular melanomas, since recent analysis of cancer patient cases confirms that high Ki-67 levels themselves are associated with a poorer prognosis in this type of melanoma — more so than even mitotic count. (vi.107-108122275453-454)

In another animal study, curcumin significantly inhibited growth of squamous cell carcinoma skin tumors. The strength of its antitumor effect was dose-dependent. Other animal studies show that oral curcumin doses significantly reduce the size of chemoresistant and highly metastatic melanoma tumors. (vi.122275455)

Multiple lab and animal studies also show the following anti-skin cancer effects of curcumin (both dose and time-dependent):

Note: Lab studies show M14 melanoma cells are resistant to curcumin treatment due to overexpression of a gene involved in lipid removal from cells. (vi.475)

Eugenol (vi.74)

What effects does eugenol have against skin cancer?


Farnesene and Farnesol (vi.110163200)

What effects do farenesene and farnesol have against skin cancer?

Answer: Farnesene and farnesol show the following anticancer effects:

Ferulic acid (vi.138)

What effects does ferulic acid have against skin cancer?


  • Ferulic acid reduces levels of cancer-promoting free radicals with antioxidant activity. (vi.55)
  • Ferulic acid blocks tyrosinase activity in melanoma cells. (vi.55)

Fisetin (vi.79)

What effects does fisetin have against skin cancer?


Geraniol (vi.112)

What effects does geraniol have against skin cancer?


Limonene (vi.74)

What effects does limonene have against skin cancer?


Quercetin (vi.79)

What effects does quercetin have against skin cancer?


Resveratrol (vi.83)

What effects does resveratrol have against skin cancer?


Rho-cymene (vi.7172)

What effects does rho-cymene have against skin cancer?


  • Rho-cymene triggers death of melanoma cells. (vi.153)
  • growth of melanoma cells. (vi.153)

Vanillic acid (vi.5574)

What effects does vanillic acid have against skin cancer?


  • Vanillic acid reduces levels of free radicals and oxidative damage. (vi.55)
  • Vanillic acid inhibits transcription factor activation of gene that regulates the production of melanin in melanoma. (vi.55)
  • Vanillic acid blocks tyrosinase activity in melanoma cells. (vi.55)

Vitamin C (vi.71)

What effects does vitamin C have against skin cancer?


  • Vitamin C boosts antioxidant protection. (vi.443)
  • Vitamin C is recommended for nutritional protection. (vi.443)

Vitamin E (vi.71)

What effects does vitamin E have against skin cancer?

Answer: Vitamin E is recommended for nutritional protection(vi.443)

Whole turmeric extract

What effects does whole turmeric extract have against skin cancer?


  • Whole turmeric extract triggers apoptotic and autophagy cell death in chemoresistant squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. (vi.465)
  • As part of a multiherbal cream, whole turmeric extract protects against UV radiation(vi.444)
  • Topical application of whole turmeric extract before exposure to a carcinogen that causes skin cancer reduced tumors by over 87% compared to untreated skin. Turmeric also reduced tumor incidence and delayed the formation of tumors. (vi.447)
  • Dietary turmeric (2%) increases natural antioxidants and significantly reduced skin tumors after carcinogen exposure. (vi.480)

Xanthorrhizol (vi.132)

What effects does xanthorrhizol have against skin cancer?


  • Xanthorrhizol blocks metastasis to lung from melanoma. (vi.123)
  • Based on studies in other types of cancer, xanthorrhizol may synergistically boost curcumin's anticancer effects. (vi.183)

How Turmeric's Curcumin Compounds Stop Skin Cancer Cells

How Turmeric Compounds Stop Skin Cancer Cells (vi.165675808184108122275415450454456-474476)

Caution: Curcumin and Cytokine Therapy

Lab studies suggest that curcumin could inhibit the effectiveness of cytokine therapy for melanoma. (vi.472)

Enzymes that enhance, stimulate, or suppress other proteins. (vi.118)
Specifically, caspase-3 activity. (vi.450)
IBMX-induced microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF). (vi.75)
Alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH). (vi.75)
Specifically, TRP-1 and TRP-2. (vi.75)
Such as VEGF. (vi.415)
Such as p21, p23, p27, p38, p53. (vi.454458462)
Specifically, Chk2. (vi.454)
Caspase-3, caspase-7, caspase-8, caspase-9, and caspase-12 enzymes. (vi.459-460462)
Such as Foxo3a. (vi.466)
Such as mmu-miR-205-5p in melanoma tumors. (vi.467)
Specifically, Bax and Bim-1 proteins. (vi.462466)
Specifically, MST1 and JNK. (vi.466)
Specifically, melanoma surface antigen Muc18. (vi.459)
Specifically, c-myc oncogene in the human melanoma A375 cell line and PRL-3 oncogene in the highly metastatic B16BL6 melanoma tumors. (vi.469-470)
Such as X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP), Bcl-2, and Mcl-1 protein. (vi.457460472)
Specifically, IκB, IκBα kinases (IKK), as well as MTOR, PDE1, PDE4, pS6, and Src kinases. (vi.81122470)
Such as the main inflammatory transcription factor NF-κB and cell cycle proteins that help cancer cells divide and multiply. (vi.5681)
Such as NFκB and STAT3. (vi.457)
For example, COX-2. (vi.444454)
Specifically, E2F1. (vi.78)
Specifically, β-catenin, Brn-2, and microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF). (vi.80476)
Specifically, c-myc oncogene in the 451Lu human melanoma cells. (vi.476)
Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK2, CDK4, and CDK6). (vi.476)
Such as c-myc, c-jun, and c-fos. (vi.84)
Specifically, cyclins D1 and D2. (vi.80)
Specifically, p21. (vi.80)
Such as TGF-β1. (vi.84)
Specifically, MAPK and CDKs 2, 4, and 6. (vi.8084)
Such as IFN-α, IFN-γ, IL-2, and IL-12. (vi.472)

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