Powdered turmeric has been used for centuries to treat osteoarthritis and other illnesses. Its active ingredient, curcumin, inhibits inflammatory reactions. A new study, led by a research team at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich, now shows that it can also inhibit formation of metastases. The study was published online in Carcinogenesis on October 5, 2012. Prostate cancer is one of the most prevalent malignancies in the Western world, and is often diagnosed only after metastatic tumors have formed in other organs. In three percent of cases, these metastases are lethal. A research team led by Dr. Beatrice Bachmeier at LMU Munich has been studying the mode of action of a natural product that inhibits the formation of metastases. The compound is found in turmeric, a plant that has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and is a major ingredient of curry. Dr. Bachmeier's research centers on curcumin, the polyphenol responsible for the characteristic color of curry. Curcumin is well tolerated and is therefore, in principle, suitable both for prophylactic use (primary prevention) and also for the suppression of metastases in cases where an established tumor is already present (secondary prevention). In a previous study, Dr. Bachmeier and her colleagues had demonstrated that the substance reduces statistically significantly the formation of lung metastases in an animal model of advanced breast cancer. The new study was designed to investigate the efficacy of curcumin in the prevention of prostate cancer metastases, and to determine the agent's mechanism of action. The researchers first examined the molecular processes that are abnormally regulated in prostate carcinoma cells.
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