Prostate cancer: Curcumin curbs metastases

October 12, 2012, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Powdered turmeric has been used for centuries to treat osteoarthritis and other illnesses. Its active ingredient, curcumin, inhibits inflammatory reactions. A new study led by a research team at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich now shows that it can also inhibit formation of metastases.

Prostate cancer is one of the most prevalent malignancies in the Western world, and is often diagnosed only after have formed in other organs. In three percent of cases, these metastases are lethal. A research team led by PD Dr. Beatrice Bachmeier at LMU Munich has been studying the mode of action of a natural product that inhibits the formation of metastases. The compound is found in turmeric, a plant that has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and is a major ingredient of curry.

Bachmeier's research centers on , the responsible for the characteristic color of curry. Curcumin is well tolerated and is therefore, in principle, suitable both for prophylactic use (primary prevention) and also for the suppression of metastases in cases where an established tumor is already present (). In a previous study Bachmeier and her colleagues had demonstrated that the substance reduces statistically significantly the formation of lung metastases in an animal model of .

Mitigating metastasis

The new study was designed to investigate the efficacy of curcumin in the prevention of metastases, and to determine the agent's mechanism of action. The researchers first examined the molecular processes that are abnormally regulated in prostate . Breast and prostate cancers are often associated with latent or chronic inflammatory reactions, and in both cases, the tumor cells were found to produce pro-inflammatory immunomodulators including the cytokines CXCL1 und CXCL2.

The researchers went on to show that curcumin specifically decreases the expression of these two proteins, and in a mouse model, this effect correlated with a decline in the incidence of metastases. "Due to the action of curcumin, the synthesize smaller amounts of cytokines that promote metastasis," says Bachmeier. "As a consequence, the frequency of metastasis formation in the lungs is significantly reduced, in animals with breast cancer, as we showed previously, or carcinoma of the prostate, as demonstrated in our new study."

Curcumin and chemoprevention

Bachmeier therefore believes that curcumin may be useful in the prevention of breast and prostate cancers – which are both linked to inflammation – and in reducing their metastatic potential. "This does not mean that the compound should be seen as a replacement for conventional therapies. However, it could play a positive role in primary prevention – before a full-blown tumor arises – or help to avert formation of . In this context the fact that the substance is well tolerated is very important, because one can safely recommend it to individuals who have an increased tumor risk."

A daily intake of up to 8g of curcumin is regarded as safe, and its anti-inflammatory properties have long been exploited in traditional oriental medicine. Men with benign hyperplasia of the prostate (BHP) are one possible target group for prophylaxis, as are women who have a family history of . The agent might also be valuable as a supplement to certain cancer therapies. At all events, curcumin's beneficial effects must first be confirmed in controlled clinical tests. Bachmeier is now planning such a trial in patients who suffer from therapy-resistant carcinoma of the prostate.

Explore further: Curry spice component may help slow prostate tumor growth

Related Stories

Curry spice component may help slow prostate tumor growth

February 10, 2012
Curcumin, an active component of the Indian curry spice turmeric, may help slow down tumor growth in castration-resistant prostate cancer patients on androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), a study from researchers at Jefferson's ...

Primary component in turmeric kicks off cancer-killing mechanisms in human saliva

September 13, 2011
Curcumin, the main component in the spice turmeric, suppresses a cell signaling pathway that drives the growth of head and neck cancer, according to a pilot study using human saliva by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive ...

LPA1 inhibition induces metastatic dormancy in mouse models of breast cancer

August 21, 2012
A lysophosphatidic acid receptor 1 (LPAR1) inhibitor, known as Debio-0719, suppresses the development of metastases in mice by inducing cancer cell dormancy, according to a study published August 21 in the Journal of the ...

Recommended for you

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

T-cells engineered to outsmart tumors induce clinical responses in relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma

January 16, 2018
WASHINGTON-(Jan. 16, 2018)-Tumors have come up with ingenious strategies that enable them to evade detection and destruction by the immune system. So, a research team that includes Children's National Health System clinician-researchers ...

Researchers identify new treatment target for melanoma

January 16, 2018
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a new therapeutic target for the treatment of melanoma. For decades, research has associated female sex and a history of previous ...

More evidence of link between severe gum disease and cancer risk

January 16, 2018
Data collected during a long-term health study provides additional evidence for a link between increased risk of cancer in individuals with advanced gum disease, according to a new collaborative study led by epidemiologists ...

Researchers develop a remote-controlled cancer immunotherapy system

January 15, 2018
A team of researchers has developed an ultrasound-based system that can non-invasively and remotely control genetic processes in live immune T cells so that they recognize and kill cancer cells.

Dietary fat, changes in fat metabolism may promote prostate cancer metastasis

January 15, 2018
Prostate tumors tend to be what scientists call "indolent" - so slow-growing and self-contained that many affected men die with prostate cancer, not of it. But for the percentage of men whose prostate tumors metastasize, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.