Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a polyphenol natural product of the plant Curcuma longa and a component of the popular Indian curry spice turmeric, may be an anticancer agent.
Researchers at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center studied the possible anticancer mechanisms of curcumin.
The study found that curcumin inhibited growth of rhabdomyosarcoma cells (Rh1 and Rh30) and arrested cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle.
Curcumin also induced apoptosis (cell death) and inhibited the basal or type I insulin-like growth factor-induced motility of the cells.
At physiological concentrations, curcumin rapidly inhibited phosphorylation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and its downstream effector molecules in a panel of cell lines.
Curcumin also inhibited phosphorylation of Akt in the cells, but only at high concentrations.
The study concluded that curcumin may execute its anticancer activity primarily by blocking mTOR-mediated signaling pathways in the tumor cells.
In traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric (which contains curcumin) has been used to strengthen the body, tone the digestive system and the liver, dispel worms, regulate menstruation, dissolve gallstones and relieve arthritis. Ancient Hindu texts refer to its carminative, aromatic and stimulant properties. Mixed with slaked lime, it has been used as a topical treatment for sprains and strains.
Reference: 1) Beevers CS, Li F, Liu L, Huang S. Curcumin inhibits the
mammalian target of rapamycin-mediated signaling pathways in cancer cells.
Int J Cancer. 2006 Aug 15;119(4):757-64.