Colon is a segment of the large intestine that plays an important role in the body’s ability to digest food and pass waste. However, the cells may also develop cancer. Colorectal cancer is also known as a bowel cancer; the cancer of the colon and rectum.

A 2006 Malaysian cancer statistics showed that colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer after breast cancer and the first among male and second among female in Peninsular Malaysia. According to the National Cancer Registry, Chinese have the highest incidence of colon and rectal cancers.  There  were  59.8%  of  cases  involved  Malaysian  Chinese  followed  by  Malay  with 34.6% cases and Indian with 5.6% of cases.

In this article we will be discussing the potential of Curcumin in Colorectal Cancer Treatment.

Curcumin’s Therapeutic Agent

Curcumin is a spice common to India and it is derived from the rhizome of Curcuma longa. The active compound of curcumin known as curcuminoids possesses yellowish-orange color. Nowadays, curcumin has been studied in a broad area including antioxidant potential, Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation, chemoprevention, and chemotherapy (J.J. Johnson and H. Mukhtar,2007).

Researches using various colorectal cell lines have proven curcumin as a therapeutic agent and able to act through numerous target molecules. Studies of curcumin by Chin et. al. (2006) showed that curcumin inhibits cell migration of human colon cancer Colo 205 cells through the inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B/p65 and down-regulates cyclooxygenase-2 and matrix metalloproteinase-2 expressions.

Researches on Curcumin Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Several in-vivo studies sighted chemo-preventive ability as well as anticancer activity of curcumin against colorectal cancer. Dietary curcumin (0.2%) inhibited the formation of carcinogen-induced colorectal tumors in rats (Wijnands et. al., 2004). Other studies evaluated the effect of curcumin on azoxymethane (AOM) induced colon cancer in animal model and showed a significant inhibition of colon carcinogenesis after the treatment with curcumin (Goel et. al., 2007).

The in-vivo studies also compared the efficacy of liposomal curcumin (40 mg/kg adminis-teredi.v.) with that of oxaliplatin, a standard chemotherapeutic agent for colorectal cancer and showed that the significant tumor growth inhibition was observed in Colo205 and LoVoxenograft models in mice.(Li et. at., 2007).

Clinical Studies

Clinical studies on pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic effect of oral curcumin in fifteen patients with advanced colorectal cancer refractory to standard chemotherapies received curcumin daily for up to 4 months was evaluated. The results showed that oral curcumin extract was well tolerated, and dose limiting toxicity was not observed (Goel et. al., 2007).

Curcumin Potentials for Colorectal Cancer Treatment

In-vitro, in-vivo, and human clinical studies have all established curcumin’s potentials and has also revealed curcumin therapeutic benefits include colorectal cancer treatment. The safety, low cost, and proven efficacy of this ‘‘age-old” natural alternative therapy makes it a promising agent for the treatment of an ‘‘old-age” disease such as cancer.



A. Goel, A.B. Kunnumakkara, B.B. Aggarwal, Curcuminas Curecumin: from kitchen to clinic, Biochem. Pharmacol.(2007).
B.B. Aggarwal, A. Kumar, A.C. Bharti, Anticancer potentialof curcumin: preclinical and clinical studies, Anticancer Res.23 (2003) 363–398
Chin-Cheng Su, Guang-Wei Chen, Jaung-Geng Lin, Lii-Tzu WuAnd Jing-Gung Chung.Curcumin Inhibits Cell Migration of Human Colon CancerColo 205 Cells through the Inhibition of Nuclear Factor kappa B /p65 and Down-regulates Cyclooxygenase-2 andMatrix Metalloproteinase-2 Expressions. Anticancer Research26 : 1281-1288 (2006).
J.J. Johnson and H. Mukhtar, Cancer Letters 255 (2007) 170–181
L. Li, B. Ahmed, K. Mehta, R. Kurzrock, Liposomalcurcumin with and without oxaliplatin: effects on cellgrowth, apoptosis, and angiogenesis in colorectal cancer,Mol. Cancer Ther. 6 (2007) 1276–1282.
M.V. Wijnands, M.J. van Erk, R.P. Doornbos, C.A. Krul,R.A. Woutersen, Do aberrant crypt foci have predictivevalue for the occurrence of colorectal tumours? Potential ofgene expression profiling in tumours, Food Chem. Toxicol.42 (2004) 1629–1639
National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Malaysia (2006) ISBN 978-983-3433-51-3 (
National Cancer Patient Registry-Colorectal Cancer and Clinical Research Centre (CRC), November 2010 (



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