Plant compounds give '1-2' punch to colon cancer

July 22, 2016, Saint Louis University
Uthayashanker Ezekiel, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical laboratory science at Saint Louis University, uses a Western Blot Assembly to transfer proteins from gel to membrane as he studies the cancer-fighting properties of plant chemicals. Credit: Saint Louis University

The combination of two plant compounds that have medicinal properties - curcumin and silymarin - holds promise in treating colon cancer, according Saint Louis University research published in the June 23 issue of the Journal of Cancer.

Curcumin is the in the spice turmeric, which is present in spicy curry dishes, and silymarin is a component of milk thistle, which has been used to treat .

The researchers and their students studied a line of colon cancer cells in a laboratory model. They found treating the cells initially with curcumin, then with silymarin was more effective in fighting cancer than treating the cells with either phytochemical alone, said Uthayashanker Ezekiel, Ph.D., corresponding author and associate professor of biomedical laboratory science at Saint Louis University.

"The combination of phytochemicals inhibited colon from multiplying and spreading. In addition, when the were pre-exposed to curcumin and then treated with silymarin, the cells underwent a high amount of cell death," Ezekiel said.

"Phytochemicals may offer alternate therapeutic approaches to cancer treatments and avoid toxicity problems and side effects that chemotherapy can cause."

Ezekiel noted the research is a preliminary cell study, with more research ahead before scientists know if the compounds are an effective treatment for people who have colon cancer. He saw promise in using the phytochemicals to help prevent , which frequently is caused by lifestyle factors, such as diet.

Scientists next would need to study how the curcumin and silymarin impact the actions of molecules, such as genetic transcription and expression, that cause cells to change, Ezekiel said. Then the compounds would be studied in an animal model, then in humans.

"Concentrations of curcumin and silymarin that are too high could be harmful to people," he said. "We still have much to learn, and for now, it's so much safer to add a little spice to your diet and get your curcumin from foods that contain turmeric, such as curry, rather than taking high doses of the compound."

Explore further: Cures and curcumin: Turmeric offers potential therapy for oral cancers

More information: Amanda Montgomery et al, Curcumin Sensitizes Silymarin to Exert Synergistic Anticancer Activity in Colon Cancer Cells, Journal of Cancer (2016). DOI: 10.7150/jca.15690

Related Stories

Cures and curcumin: Turmeric offers potential therapy for oral cancers

April 24, 2015
Turmeric—the familiar yellow spice common in Indian and Asian cooking—may play a therapeutic role in oral cancers associated with human papillomavirus, according to new research published in ecancermedicalscience.

Curcumin may help overcome drug-resistant tuberculosis

March 24, 2016
New research indicates that curcumin—a substance in turmeric that is best known as one of the main components of curry powder—may help fight drug-resistant tuberculosis. In Asia, turmeric is used to treat many health ...

Curcumin blocks the metastasis of colon cancer by a novel mechanism

August 26, 2014
Novel research led by the UA Steele Children's Research Center has identified one of the mechanisms by which curcumin, a bioactive molecule derived from the spice turmeric, can prevent cancer cell metastasis in colon cancer.

Curcumin proved effective at combating cancer

March 16, 2015
WA scientists have helped re-affirm that curcumin, a chemical compound found in turmeric, is a safe and promising treatment for most cancers and other inflammation-driven diseases.

Recommended for you

Daily low-dose aspirin may be weapon against ovarian cancer

July 20, 2018
(HealthDay)— One low-dose aspirin a day could help women avoid ovarian cancer or boost their survival should it develop, two new studies suggest.

Discovery of kidney cancer driver could lead to new treatment strategy

July 19, 2018
University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center scientists have uncovered a potential therapeutic target for kidney cancers that have a common genetic change. Scientists have known this genetic change ...

High fruit and vegetable consumption may reduce risk of breast cancer, especially aggressive tumors

July 19, 2018
Women who eat a high amount of fruits and vegetables each day may have a lower risk of breast cancer, especially of aggressive tumors, than those who eat fewer fruits and vegetables, according to a new study led by researchers ...

Sunscreen reduces melanoma risk by 40 per cent in young people

July 19, 2018
A world-first study led by University of Sydney has found that Australians aged 18-40 years who were regular users of sunscreen in childhood reduced their risk of developing melanoma by 40 percent, compared to those who rarely ...

Analysis of prostate tumors reveals clues to cancer's aggressiveness

July 19, 2018
Using genetic sequencing, scientists have revealed the complete DNA makeup of more than 100 aggressive prostate tumors, pinpointing important genetic errors these deadly tumors have in common. The study lays the foundation ...

Complementary medicine for cancer can decrease survival

July 19, 2018
People who received complementary therapy for curable cancers were more likely to refuse at least one component of their conventional cancer treatment, and were more likely to die as a result, according to researchers from ...

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.