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Curcumin Also Inhibits Metastasis from Prostate Cancer

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 23 Oct 2012
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Researchers have now shown that curcumin, the key medicinal ingredient of turmeric, can also inhibit formation of metastases from prostate cancer, and have identified the main mechanism by which it does so.

Powdered turmeric has long been used in traditional medicine to treat osteoarthritis and other illnesses. Studies have shown that its active ingredient, the polyphenol curcumin, inhibits inflammatory reactions. A research team led by PD Dr. Beatrice Bachmeier of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (Munich, Germany) has been studying the effectiveness and the mode of action of curmumin in inhibition of cancer metastasis. In a previous study, Dr. Bachmeier and colleagues had demonstrated that the substance reduces statistically significantly the formation of lung metastases in an animal model of advanced breast cancer.

Prostate cancer is often diagnosed only after metastatic tumors have formed in other organs and emerging evidence suggests that chronic inflammation is a major risk factor for the development and metastatic progression of prostate cancer. The new study, published early online October 5, 2012, in the journal Carcinogenesis, was designed to investigate the efficacy of curcumin in preventing prostate cancer metastases and to determine its mechanism of action. The researchers first examined the molecular processes that are abnormally regulated in the carcinoma cells. Prostate and breast cancers are often associated with latent or chronic inflammatory reactions and, in both cases, the tumor cells were found to abnormally produce proinflammatory immunomodulators including the cytokines CXCL1 und CXCL2. They then observed that, among other inhibiting effects, curcumin specifically decreased the expression of these two proteins and other important metastasis-promoting factors. Furthermore, in a mouse model this effect was correlated with a decline in the incidence of metastases.

Since curcumin is well tolerated, it could be suitable for use in reducing metastatic potential by chemoprevention - for prophylactic use (primary prevention) and/or for the suppression of metastases where an established tumor is already present (secondary prevention). “This does not mean that the compound should be seen as a replacement for conventional therapies. However, it could play a positive role in [prevention or treatment]. In this context the fact that the substance is well tolerated is very important,” said Dr. Bachmeier.

A daily intake of up to 8 g of curcumin is regarded as safe, and its anti-inflammatory properties have long been exploited in traditional medicine. For prophylaxis, men with benign hyperplasia of the prostate (BHP) are one possible target group, as are women with a family history of breast cancer. The agent might also be valuable as a supplement to certain cancer therapies. Since curcumin’s beneficial effects must first be examined in controlled clinical tests, Dr. Bachmeier and colleagues are presently planning a clinical trial in patients suffering from therapy-resistant prostate carcinoma.

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Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich

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