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Curry's Color May Curb Oral and Cervical Cancers
Turmeric's healthful hue quelled human papilloma virus (HPV) in infected cells 05/01/2015 By Craig Weatherby
Cervical cancer deaths have dropped by half since 1985, thanks to the Pap test.

But cervical cancer still kills about 4,100 American women every year, with almost all cases caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). 

HPV is transmitted by skin-to-skin or (usually) sexual contact, and it can also cause oral cancers.

Oral cancers affect either the mouth or the pharynx tube that connects the mouth and nasal passages to the esophagus.

About 39,500 Americans – twice as many men as women – get oral cancer annually, and some 7,500 die as a result.

HPV-related oral cancer became headline news in 2013, when actor Michael Douglas announced that he'd developed it in his throat.

According to Dr. Eric Genden, chair of otolaryngology at New York's Mt. Sinai Hospital, "There's an epidemic of HPV-related throat cancers."

Every year, about 4 million Americans aged 15 to 24 get infected with HPV, but the vast majority will never have symptoms or suffer harm. 

A new lab study suggests that curcumin – the antioxidant that gives turmeric root its orange-yellow hue – may help prevent or curb HPV-related cancers.

Curcumin quells HPV in human cells
Ten years ago, an Indian study showed that curcumin suppressed the genetic "expression” of HPV in cervical cancer cells (Prusty BK, Das BC 2005).

That study was followed by other encouraging ones:
  • Curcumin suppresses HPV in human cells (Maher DM et al. 2011).
  • Curcumin can cause apoptosis in cervical cancer cells ... a kind of cellular "suicide” (Singh M et al. 2010).
  • A curcumin-based vaginal cream selectively eliminated human cervical cancer cells (Basu P et al. 2013; Debata PR et al. 2013).
  • Curcumin counteracts the growth-promoting effect of estradiol – the primary female sex hormone – on cervical cancer cells (Singh M et al. 2010)

The new study comes from researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Mayo Clinic, Emory University, and Indian universities.

It was led by Alok Mishra, Ph.D., of the NCI and Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute, who noted in a press release, "Turmeric has established antiviral and anti-cancer properties.”

Dr. Mishra's study was designed to see whether curcumin would also suppress HPV activity in oral cancer cells.

And indeed, as his team hoped, curcumin slowed the genetic "expression” of HPV, suggesting that curcumin could control the extent of HPV infection.

"Since HPV-related oral cancer cases are on rise, we tested the same hypothesis on oral cancer,” Dr. Mishra said. "They turned out to be some very interesting findings."

The new research indicates that curcumin turns down the expression of HPV in infected oral cancer cells by down-regulating the levels of two key "messenger” proteins called AP-1 and NF-kB.

As Dr. Nicholas Perricone notes in his bestselling anti-aging books, AP-1 and NF-kB promote inflammation and cancer growth … and both can be suppressed by food-borne antioxidants like curcumin.

Wisely, Dr. Mishra wouldn't speculate on any potential preventive or therapeutic benefits of cooking with turmeric or taking curcumin supplements.

But he believes that turmeric and its curcumin are good for health in general, and may help curb HPV-related oral and cervical cancers. 


Sources
  • Alok Mishra, Rakesh Kumar, Abhishek Tyagi, Indu Kohaar, Suresh Hedau, Alok C Bharti, Subhodeep Sarker, Dipankar Dey, Daman Saluja and Bhudev Das Curcumin modulates cellular AP-1, NF-kB, and HPV16 E6 proteins in oral cancer. ecancer 9 525 / DOI: 10.3332/ecancer.2015.525
  • Basu P, Dutta S, Begum R, Mittal S, Dutta PD, Bharti AC, Panda CK, Biswas J, Dey B, Talwar GP, Das BC. Clearance of cervical human papillomavirus infection by topical application of curcumin and curcumin containing polyherbal cream: a phase II randomized controlled study. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(10):5753-9.
  • Debata PR, Castellanos MR, Fata JE, Baggett S, Rajupet S, Szerszen A, Begum S, Mata A, Murty VV, Opitz LM, Banerjee P. A novel curcumin-based vaginal cream Vacurin selectively eliminates apposed human cervical cancer cells. Gynecol Oncol. 2013 Apr;129(1):145-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2012.12.005. Epub 2012 Dec 9.
  • Dikshit P, Goswami A, Mishra A, Chatterjee M, Jana NR. Curcumin induces stress response, neurite outgrowth and prevent NF-kappaB activation by inhibiting the proteasome function. Neurotox Res. 2006 Jan;9(1):29-37.
  • Divya CS, Pillai MR. Antitumor action of curcumin in human papillomavirus associated cells involves downregulation of viral oncogenes, prevention of NFkB and AP-1 translocation, and modulation of apoptosis. Mol Carcinog. 2006 May;45(5):320-32.
  • Jiang M, Huang O, Zhang X, Xie Z, Shen A, Liu H, Geng M, Shen K. Curcumin induces cell death and restores tamoxifen sensitivity in the antiestrogen-resistant breast cancer cell lines MCF-7/LCC2 and MCF-7/LCC9. Molecules. 2013 Jan 8;18(1):701-20. doi: 10.3390/molecules18010701.
  • Kumar P, Kadakol A, Shasthrula P, Mundhe NA, Jamdade VS, Barua CC, Gaikwad AB. Curcumin as an Adjuvant to Breast Cancer Treatment. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2015 Jan 1. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Kumar P, Kadakol A, Shasthrula P, Mundhe NA, Jamdade VS, Barua CC, Gaikwad AB. Curcumin as an Adjuvant to Breast Cancer Treatment. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2015 Jan 1. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Maher DM, Bell MC, O'Donnell EA, Gupta BK, Jaggi M, Chauhan SC. Curcumin suppresses human papillomavirus oncoproteins, restores p53, Rb, and PTPN13 proteins and inhibits benzo[a]pyrene-induced upregulation of HPV E7. Mol Carcinog. 2011 Jan;50(1):47-57. doi: 10.1002/mc.20695.
  • Mehta HJ, Patel V, Sadikot RT Curcumin and lung cancer--a review. Target Oncol. 2014 Dec;9(4):295-310. doi: 10.1007/s11523-014-0321-1. Epub 2014 May 21.
  • Prusty BK, Das BC. Constitutive activation of transcription factor AP-1 in cervical cancer and suppression of human papillomavirus (HPV) transcription and AP-1 activity in HeLa cells by curcumin. Int J Cancer. 2005 Mar 1;113(6):951-60.
  • Ralhan R, Pandey MK, Aggarwal BB. Nuclear factor-kappa B links carcinogenic and chemopreventive agents. Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2009 Jun 1;1:45-60. Review. Rösl F, Das BC, Lengert M, Geletneky K, zur Hausen H. Antioxidant-induced changes of the AP-1 transcription complex are paralleled by a selective suppression of human papillomavirus transcription. J Virol. 1997 Jan;71(1):362-70. 
  • Shehzad A, Lee J, Lee YS. Curcumin in various cancers. Biofactors. 2013 Jan-Feb;39(1):56-68. doi: 10.1002/biof.1068. Epub 2013 Jan 10. Review. Shishodia S. Molecular mechanisms of curcumin action: gene expression. Biofactors. 2013 Jan-Feb;39(1):37-55. doi: 10.1002/biof.1041. Epub 2012 Sep 20. Review.
  • Singh AK, Misra K. Human papilloma virus 16 E6 protein as a target for curcuminoids, curcumin conjugates and congeners for chemoprevention of oral and cervical cancers. Interdiscip Sci. 2013 Jun;5(2):112-8. doi: 10.1007/s12539-013-0159-8. Epub 2013 Jun 6.
  • Singh M, Singh N. Curcumin counteracts the proliferative effect of estradiol and induces apoptosis in cervical cancer cells. Mol Cell Biochem. 2011 Jan;347(1-2):1-11. doi: 10.1007/s11010-010-0606-3. Epub 2010 Oct 13.
  • Tuttle S, Hertan L, Daurio N, Porter S, Kaushick C, Li D, Myamoto S, Lin A, O'Malley BW, Koumenis C. The chemopreventive and clinically used agent curcumin sensitizes HPV (-) but not HPV (+) HNSCC to ionizing radiation, in vitro and in a mouse orthotopic model. Cancer Biol Ther. 2012 May;13(7):575-84. doi: 10.4161/cbt.19772. Epub 2012 May 1.
  • Wilken R, Veena MS, Wang MB, Srivatsan ES. Curcumin: A review of anti-cancer properties and therapeutic activity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Mol Cancer. 2011 Feb 7;10:12. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-10-12. Review.
  • Zhou QM, Wang XF, Liu XJ, Zhang H, Lu YY, Su SB. Curcumin enhanced antiproliferative effect of mitomycin C in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells in vitro and in vivo. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2011 Nov;32(11):1402-10. doi: 10.1038/aps.2011.97. Epub 2011 Oct 10.
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