Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Curcumin & Black Pepper May Help Prevent Breast Cancer

Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center found that curcumin,  (derived from turmeric) and piperine (from black pepper) helped halt breast cancer cell proliferation without harming normal breast tissue cells. 

Here's a promising passage from the University of Michigan's recent press release with a quote from lead author, Madhuri Kakarala, M.D., Ph.D., R.D.:

The researchers applied a series of tests to the cells, looking at markers for breast stem cells and the effects of curcumin and piperine, both alone and combined, on the stem cell levels. They found that piperine enhanced the effects of curcumin, and that the compounds interrupted the self-renewal process that is the hallmark of cancer-initiating stem cells. At the same time, the compounds had no affect on cell differentiation, which is the normal process of cell development.

“This shows that these compounds are not toxic to normal breast tissue,” Kakarala says. “Women at high risk of breast cancer right now can choose to take the drugs tamoxifen or raloxifene for prevention, but most women won’t take these drugs because there is too much toxicity. The concept that dietary compounds can help is attractive, and curcumin and piperine appear to have very low toxicity.”

Interestingly, curcumin and piperine affect cancers that are not estrogen sensitive as well as those that are, while commonly-prescribed pharmaceuticals limit estrogen, known to be a "factor in most, but not all breast cancers."  

Low toxicity. Low cost. Potential prevention as well as treatment of cancer. It's a pretty good package deal for these two health-promoting botanicals, turmeric (curcumin) and black pepper (piperine).

When we formulated our Constant Health, with 250mg of turmeric per serving, we were advised to include 10mg of bioperine (a standardized extract of piperine) to increase the bioavailability of the turmeric (curcurmin is the primary active ingredient in turmeric). Our Constant Health has a whole host of other antioxidants, detoxifiers, vitamins and minerals, and fibers in a rice protein base. If you are interested in the white paper I wrote on Constant Health, with Dr. Hugo Rodier's review, here's a link.

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