For far too long, the world was preoccupied with other medical, social, and economic problems. It took the combined power of celebrity activism, and hard forced data to force the world community to sit up and take notice of breast cancer.
The statistics aren’t pretty.
On average, one in ten women in the world will develop breast cancer at some point during their lives, and each year approximately 1.5 million new cases come to light.
But, hopefully, this number will decrease as awareness increases and screening becomes cheaper, meaning it becomes readily available to poorer parts of the world.
Fortunately, the combined roar of the fairer sex; celebs, businesswomen, professionals, and housewives, along with generous funding has boosted scientific research on breast cancer.
Scientists are constantly exploring new ways to combat this very serious disease.
A New Weapon to Fight Breast Cancer
And it does not come in the form of breast cancer drugs.
It is curcumin, the dynamic ingredient in turmeric. It has shown remarkable potential in preventing, and fighting the growth of breast cancer tumor cells.
Regular intake of cur-cumin can regulate several chemical processes to ensure breast cancer cell growth doesn’t spiral out of control.
It also does a lot more, which you can read about later in the article.
Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Uncontrolled growth of cells leads to a tumor, which might be benign or malignant.
The place of origin of tumor might determine the variant of the cancer. The tumor might appear in the tubes that transport the milk, or in the breast lobules that produce the milk.
Genes often play a significant role in the development of disease, but with breast cancer, experts believe that only 5 -10 percent of all cases are caused by family history.
- Menopause (later in life)
- Personal/family history
- Early start to periods
- Hormone replacement therapy (estrogen and progesterone)
Any abnormal growth or discharge in and around the breast area. This includes a change in size and/or shape, discharge of blood and/or fluid, solid mass or lump, etc – should immediately raise your suspicion.
A small abnormal growth under the armpit is also considered one of the symptoms of breast cancer.
These symptoms shouldn’t be taken lightly, as the tumor could be malignant and can spread to other parts of the body.
If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor might suggest medication, use of hormone therapy, surgical removal of the tumor, or chemotherapy.
How Curcumin Helps Fight Breast Cancer
Researchers have enough evidence to step up research on curcumin, because the initial signs are very encouraging.
Scientists are certain that curcumin fights cancer in different ways.
- It helps prevent the disease
- It ease the symptoms
- Stop cancer cell growth, hinder its progress and movement
- It can also assists in post-treatment care
For the body to stay healthy, every element – cells, enzymes, hormones, tissues, and organs, have to function normally, or, to perform duties they are supposed to do.
Enzymes that ‘Over Perform’ Can Be Dangerous
A good case in point is the enzyme called telomerase, which plays a crucial role in cell replication, aging, and eventually, death. Thanks to telomerase, our cells replicate a certain number of times and then lose the ability.
But sometimes the enzyme over performs leading to the formation of cancerous cells!
That is, instead of multiplying ‘x’ number of times and then dying, the cells multiply uncontrollably, becoming cancerous in nature.
Scientists now believe that curcumin ensures telomerase remains stable and behaves normally.
In a nutshell, this means that curcumin might prevent breast cancer in some cases, before it even begins.
In small measures, both oxidation and inflammation are beneficial to the body.
Only when these two processes go haywire that things go bad. Uncontrolled oxidation and inflammation will result in cell damage that can lead to the development of cancer.
Here too, curcumin prevents breast cancer by regulating both oxidation and inflammation.
Curcumin Eases the Symptoms
Dealing with breast cancer is hard enough. A cancer patient’s life is further compounded by symptoms of the disease, such as swelling and pain.
Curcumin helps ease at least some of the symptoms of breast cancer, because of these anti-inflammation actions.
The appearance of cancer tissues prompts the body to take corrective action.
It sends CXCL1 and CXCL2 to fight the rogue cells. This results in the redness, swelling, pain, and other symptoms that the breast cancer patients experience (inflammation).
The anti-inflammatory property of curcumin lends a helping hand by curtailing the over-activities of CXCL1 and CXCL2.
Curcumin Stops Cancer Cell Growth
In breast cancer patients, the small lumps on the breast are the result of uncontrolled cell growth. If left unattended, the rogue cancer cells in the lumps could spread and affect other parts of the body (metastasis).
They can induce cells in other areas, hinting for them to replicate uncontrollably, and further develop into cancer cells elsewhere.
But, scientists believe that action of curcumin could slowly and steadily, stop unrestricted cell division.
This is half the battle won.
And It Doesn’t Stop There
Because curcumin doesn’t leave us high and dry midway. It is known to finish the job it has started.
Cancerous cells that have lost the ability to multiply are still too dangerous to ignore, because they can still spread to other areas of the body, and kick back in to danger mode!
Cancerous cells don’t follow rules meant for normal, healthy cells.
All healthy cells are programmed to perform ‘hara-kiri’, once they are damaged beyond repair. This process is governed by proapoptotic and anti-apoptotic proteins.
The dangerous cancer cells somehow dodge the proapoptotic proteins and increase the potency of anti-apoptotic proteins. It is further believed, and backed by scientific studies, that curcumin again activates the proteins that promote programmed cell death.
The process of cell division takes place in stages. One of the crucial stages involves development and attachment of spindle fibers to the chromosomes.
Cancerous cells more or less undergo the same stages of cell division. Scientists believe that curcumin targets rogue cells specifically and inhibits this stage of cell division.
Why is Metastasis Dangerous?
Cancer becomes extremely dangerous and fatal once it starts to spread.
Most cancer related deaths happen after this stage is crossed. But, scientists believe that this process of movement from birthplace to a new location in the body could be interrupted with the help of curcumin.
This is backed by scientific, experimental trials.
Through its various actions – inhibiting spindle fiber formation, regulating enzyme function, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, controlling signaling, etc. – curcumin can reduce and even stop metastasis in breast cancer patients.
Curcumin Helps in Post Treatment Care
Curcumin is loaded with so many beneficial properties that most people forget about its analgesic effects. Curcumin in turmeric is a natural painkiller, and can be used to relieve pain after surgery.
The antinociception action of curcumin blocks pain, and it’s anti-inflammatory powers further reduce swelling and pain after (medical) breast cancer treatment.
Can Curcumin Replace Allopathic Medicine?
No. Curcumin cannot be used as a standalone treatment, at least not yet.
But, the findings of experimental trials have been positive so far.