Curcuma longa is a ginger-like plant that grows in tropical regions. The roots contain a bright yellow substance (turmeric) that contains curcumin
and other curcuminoids. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries. But it's only within the past few years that the extraordinary actions of curcumin against cancer have been scientifically documented. Among its many benefits, curcumin has at least a dozen separate ways of interfering with cancer.
Curcumin blocks estrogen mimicking chemicals
One of the things that sets curcumin apart from most other anti-cancer supplements (I3C being an exception), is that this phenolic can actually block chemicals from getting inside cells. Importantly, curcumin can interfere with pesticides that mimic estrogen. These include DDT and dioxin, two extremely toxic chemicals that contaminate America's water and food. (Dioxin is so toxic that a few ounces of it could wipe out the entire population of New York City). Curcumin has the unique ability to fit through a cellular doorway known as the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. This is a feat it shares with estrogen and estrogen-mimicking chemicals. Because it can compete for the same doorway, curcumin has the power to block access to the cell and protect against estrogen mimickers.
Like estrogen, estrogen-mimicking chemicals promote the growth of breast cancer. In a study on human breast cancer cells, curcumin reversed growth caused by 17b-estradiol by 98%. DDT's growth-enhancing effects on breast cancer were blocked about 75% by curcumin.
Two other estrogen mimickers were tested for their ability to enhance breast cancer. Chlordane and endosulfane together make breast cancer cells grow about as much as17b-estradiol. Curcumin can reverse that growth about 90%. Adding the soy phytochemical, genistein, causes a 100% growth arrest.
Curcumin's ability to block other chemicals have been documented. It has been tested against paraquat (weed killer), nitrosamines (in cooked meat and "lunch" meats) and carbon tetrachloride (a solvent in varnish and other products). In all cases, curcumin is able to block the chemical's effect. The beneficial effects are evident in a study where mice were treated with diethylnitrosamine. All mice treated with this chemical would usually develop liver cancer. However, when treated with curcumin, the percentage of animals developing cancer went from 100% to 38%, and the number of tumors dropped by 81%.