What’s Curcumin Got to Do With Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer has been spreading faster than wildfire for over three decades.  A new discovery recently published explains how the Chinese herb Curcumae Radix, can possibly help prevent breast cancer and can be used for breast cancer therapy.

Top doctors are studying breast cancer treatments around the clock and yet there is little  in the way of PREVENTIVE strategies.  The reasons are complicated but it may be partly due to the fact the breast cancer is not one disease.  There are several different types of cancer cells which all cause breast cancer, some are more aggressive while others spread slower.   To understand which cancer cells a patient has, doctors must analyze the cells individually. Once this is determined, treatment options can be customized, including herbal treatments for breast cancer.

The recent study from the University of California, San Diego,  published in the British Journal, Nature, has discovered a molecule called RANKL, found in aggressive breast cancer cells that predicts more deadly, lethal and life threatening disease.  The findings from these recent studies suggests that herbs with the correct chemicals can block RANKL and may be effective in preventing both the early stages of breast cancer and the advanced progression of the disease. Research has also shown the active ingredient in the Chinese herb, Curcumae root  (small quantities found in the spice Turmeric) has properties that also reduce the expression of these deadly molecules within cancer cells and can potentially slow the spread of breast cancer.

This new research demonstrates that when a  protein molecule called RANKL (Receptor Activated Nuclear Factor Kappa Ligand) is present in breast cancer cells in high amounts, these tumor cells are more activated, more aggressive, more likely to spread and more likely to kill.  RANKL is produced by regulatory T-Cellsthat modulate our immune response.  High levels of these T-cells means high levels of RANKL, high levels of inflammation and aggressive high risk disease.

Dr. Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX is one of many respected researchers and experts who has published many studies on the effects of curcumin on cancer cells.  According to Dr. Aggarwal

“Curcumin has a very special nature which will work both for cancer prevention as well as for cancer therapy.”

Turmeric (Curcuma longa or Curcumae radix) is one of the most potent cancer fighting foods. Curcumin, the active ingredient in this common medicinal and culinary herb has been widely studied.  It is recognized as a potent cell protectant, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.  Turmeric has been used for centuries to support cancer patients in Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine and Indian Ayurvedic Medicine.  Now modern science demonstrates why it works.  Curcumin has been shown to influence many cellular factors, including lowering RANKL.

Blocking tumor promoting RANKL can block the spread of breast cancer cells to other parts of the body.  This new information gives women hope that using the natural substance, Curcumin can be used as a preventative, and can lower inflammation, lower RANKL, thereby lowering breast cancer risk.

As with any potent botanical medicine or Chinese herbal medicine, the use of curcumin should be used under the supervision of a knowledgeable licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist or other licensed professional.  Countries such as India use turmeric  frequently in their daily diet and have lower rates of many cancers including prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer.  Turmeric can be safely added to your food as a cooking spice to add anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties to your daily diet.

Disclaimer: Please consult a physician before making any decisions regarding breast cancer treatment.

See the study at the link below.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16219905  Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) down-regulates expression of cell proliferation and antiapoptotic and metastatic gene products through suppression of IkappaBalpha kinase and Akt activation.

Also check out this link at the Linus Pauling Institute research on curcumin for breast cancer.   http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/curcumin/

More helpful links on Curcumin: ” Curcumin for Prevention of Colorectal Neoplasia”   American Botanical Council               http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbclip/442/091152-442.html

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Chinese Herbs and Self Breast Massage for Breast Health

prevent breast lumps with self love, self massage and herbsBreast tissue is made up of fat cells which include mammary glands, ducts, lobes and adjacent lymph ducts and nodes.  Keeping this tissue just as healthy as any other body part and be done easily with self massage and herbs to move the flow of qi, or energy in this tissue.

Many well known herbs such a ginseng and astragulus are beneficial at moving qi, but did you know there are also some very good herbs which can specifically help with benign breast pain?   Many breast lumps are small and movable and may be more pronounced during menstruation as a result of fluctuations in hormones.  Traditional Chinese medicine treats these as stagnant qi, or stagnant energy that has been blocked.   There is a terrific protocol for self breast massage at EssentiallyPink.com.  Do this massage at least once a week or as needed when you have minor pain in the surrounding lymph nodes in the armpit and breast area.  This is a free and easy way to promote self breast health.  Just as brushing and flossing becomes routine so should self breast massage.

In addition to massaging the breast tissue,  combination of Chinese herbs has been used successfully throughout Asia for hundreds of years for breast problems.  Herbal formulas can help relieve the stagnation and stress that may accumulate in the chest.  Herbs such as tangerine peel, bupleurum, white peony and vaccaria seeds create a synergy of actions that help move the stagnate Qi in the chest.  Vaccaria seeds are especially good at helping invigorate the blood and reduce pain and swellings in the breasts. These seeds alone are also very good at promoting lactation, but only for women who are already lactating.  Creating breast health should be a priority in every women’s life.  It’s time for a shift from a fear based breast cancer model to one of self love and breast health.  Being proactive is up to you. 

The Best Foods and Herbs For Fighting Breast Cancer

Best Food and Herbs to Help Your Breast Cancer FightSince October is Breast Cancer Awareness month I wanted to post a few tips on the best foods and herbs for breast cancer patients.  Really everyone should eat the foods on this list.  But if you or a friend are in the midst of this horrible disease the Chinese herbs mentioned may be especially beneficial.  Celeb’s like Sheryl Crow used diet, herbs and acupuncture during her bout with breast cancer, and much was written about simply because of her celebrity status.  Why it takes a celeb to bring this info front and center I’m not sure.

Preventing cancer in the first place should be our goal, so incorporating these foods and herbs into your daily diet is always a good idea.

The Best Herbs for Breast Cancer

Herbs for breast cancer often includes herbs that help relieve symptoms associated with radiation and chemotherapy treatments. These symptoms include nausea, vomiting, mucositis (inflammation of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract), and fatigue.

An important review by the internationally known Cochran Library included 542 breast cancer patients undergoing or having recently undergone chemotherapy.  The seven studies they reviewed  found that Chinese herbs offer relief of symptoms and enhance the immune system. “The results suggest that using Chinese herbs in conjunction with chemotherapy or Chinese medicinal herbs alone may be beneficial in terms of improvement in marrow suppression and immune system, and may improve overall state of quality of life”

Ginger is the main Chinese herb recommended to relieve nausea. Some herbs are used because they are known to have some anti-cancer properties. These include red clover, ashwagandha and curcumin.  

The Best Foods for Breast Cancer

Broccoli sprouts and other members of the Brassica family such as kale, chard, turnips and bok choy have been found to be beneficial foods for breast cancer patients.  Flax seed is an absolute must.   Flax is a great source of alphalinolenic acid, which is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in plants and has essentially the best anti-cancer properties.  Chia seeds are a great source of fiber and omega-3s.

Don’t forget tomatoes.  They are high in lycopene, a proven cancer prevention compound according to the Univ. of Michigan. Lycopene is an antioxidant that is structurally similar to beta-carotene.

Dark leafy vegetables (dandelion greens, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, argula)  and yellow orange fruits (papaya, mango) are good natural sources of beta carotene.  Beta-carotene is also called pro-vitamin A is a proven cancer fighter.

Eat well and be well!