Prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer with turmeric and its main active constituent, curcumin
Luers, Erin Conner
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PROBLEM: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a top three leading cause of death among western countries. Epidemiological evidence shows a positive correlation between western diet, which consists of high-fat, meat and processed foods. Positive correlations indicate that diets high in fruits and vegetables could greatly decrease risk of CRC. Specifically the ubiquitous spice, turmeric, and its main active constituent have been broadly researched to determine its efficacy in the treatment and prevention of CRC. RESULTS: Curcumin proves to be effective in the treatment and prevention of CRC. It acts as a chemosensitizer for chemotherapeutics which increases their effectiveness especially against chemoresistant CRC cell lines. In many in vitro studies curcumin has inhibited critical pathways involved in CRC progression such as Wnt/β-catenin and sonic hedgehog pathway. Curcumin can also act as a ligand for VDR, which is significant because high vitamin D intake is associated with a decreased risk of CRC. In vivo, curcumin has minimized tumor growth in animal models. In clinical trials curcumin proves to be a naturally derived, non-toxic agent. CONCLUSION: Curcumin and turmeric should be further studied for its use against CRC, specifically its use in nanotechnology and NDDS as either a stand-alone nutraceutical or a chemosensitizer. Additionally, it would likely be advantageous to prescribe turmeric in the diet in combination with black pepper, heat, and oil (which increases its bioavailability) in patients at high risk of developing CRC.