Curcumin and Blood Cancers

Last week, a story circulated in the UK about a woman with multiple myeloma—a blood cancer that is very difficult to treat—that was seemingly successfully treated with curcumin, the active medicinal ingredient in the spice turmeric.

Multiple Myeloma is a blood cancer that will affect just under 3000 Canadians annually. The disease does damage to bones, the immune system, the kidneys–because it’s a blood cancer, symptoms can crop up all over the place. The prognosis for patients with multiple myeloma is fair at best, and the median survival rate is 3 years.

Although her recovery may sound sensational, her case was actually written up in the British Medical Journal. That led us to ask our resident cancer guru, Dr. Ehab, about curcumin.

Curcumin is derived from the yellow curry spice, turmeric (curcuma longa) or Yu Jin.

Taking curcumin in your diet can be protective from various cancers, but the medical dose would be 90 grams a day of the root. The turmeric root has about 3% curcumin, so the biggest challenge with dietary curcumin is poor absorption–it’s hard to get that much into your blood by diet alone, so we use the capsulated curcumin concentrates.

How curcumin helps in cancer care

There are a number of very interesting ways in which curcumin can play a role in cancer care. For example, curcumin:

  • Induces apoptosis (i.e. programmed cell death, so cancer cells stop dividing indefinitely and stop growing) in tumors of the liver, kidney, sarcoma, and colon.
  • Reverses liver damage from fungal aflatoxin.
  • Inhibits cancer initiation, promotion and progression.
  • Is highly chemoprotective, blocks tumor induction by chemical carcinogens.
  • Is very useful for improving safety and efficacy in radiation therapy.

If you want to get deep into the weeds on this, you can read some specific studies:

But you can also have any questions answered about our cancer program by booking a complimentary meet-the-doctor visit online, or by calling the clinic at 705-444-5331.