Going Through Radiotherapy For Breast Cancer? Better Take Curcumin!
If you are currently going through radiotherapy for breast cancer, you would be well advised to include curcumin in your daily supplement regime. I’ll share why in a moment.
First, however, a little rant. I am frequently told by women going through breast cancer that when they asked their oncologist or their radiologist whether there were certain supplements which would help them get through the treatments, without much variation they are told “Just eat what you want to, evidence doesn’t support that a certain diet or supplements will help you.”
THIS IS JUST PLAIN WRONG!
Anyone who advises that nutrition is unimportant for people going through cancer is both ill-informed and dangerous. Ill-informed because the research is out there! Evidence that nutrition makes a huge difference is comprehensive. And I say they are dangerous because such advice causes vulnerable people to ignore or disregard a source of significant help which would improve both their quality of life and their survival. Good nutrition can indeed reduce the risk of developing cancer, it can slow the rate of progression, and it can very effectively stop recurrences. Okay, rant over. Back to curcumin and how it can help with radiotherapy.
Should you not be familiar with curcumin, it is a yellow pigment derived from turmeric, a common root used for spice and cooking.
In a 2007 study, Radioprotection and Radiosensitization By Curcumin, researchers found that curcumin “…has been reported to protect various study systems against the deleterious effects induced by ionizing radiation and to enhance the effect of radiation. Therefore, curcumin can be very useful during radiotherapy of cancer. Administration of curcumin in patients will be able to kill the tumor cells effectively by enhancing the effect of radiation and, at the same time, protect normal cells against the harmful effects of radiation.”
In plainer language, this means that curcumin was found to be protective against the harmful effects that occur as a result of radiotherapy, and that curcumin actually enhanced the effect of radiotherapy.
The available information on curcumin suggests that its protective effects may be due to its ability to reduce oxidative stress and inhibit transcription of the genes related to oxidative stress and inflammatory responses. In addition, curcumin’s ability to enhance radiotherapy could be due to the upregulation of genes responsible for cell death.
A newer Iranian study published in 2013 and done with prostate cancer patients, A Pilot Clinical Trial of Radioprotective Effects of Curcumin Supplementation in Patients with Prostate Cancer found that “Curcumin can confer radioprotective effect in patients with prostate cancer who undergo radiation therapy through reducing the severity of radiotherapy related urinary symptoms.”
I think the best article, and the most relevant one to date is The Effect Of Curcumin On Breast Cancer Cells published in the Journal of Breast Cancer in June 2013. Although this one didn’t study curcumin’s effects for those going through radiotherapy for breast cancer, take the time to read the study because it will make a believer out of you that curcumin has a powerful chemotherapeutic role to play in the treatment of breast cancer.