Curcumin, the spice that gives colour to curries and stir fries, is showing positive benefits for men with prostate cancer, according to two recent clinical trials which show it:
 
  • Reduces the side effects of radiation therapy
  • Inhibits the spread of secondary tumours

In the first, curcumin was found to decrease the severity of adverse effects of radiation therapy on the urinary tract in men with prostate cancer. Urinary problems are the most common side effects of radiation therapy for prostate cancer. 

Urinary Problems Reduced 

After three months on the curcumin supplement men showed significantly less problems from symptoms like
  • Incontinence
  • Disruption of day and night activities because a need to urinate
  • Sleep disturbance because of frequent night toilet calls
  • Pain in urinating
  • Restriction of normal activities because the need to be close to a toilet
The form of curcumin tested is BCM-95, is a standardised active ingredient which has been shown to have 7 to 10 times the absorption of plain curcumin.

Inhibits Prostate Cancer Spread

In the second study researchers at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich showed that the traditional anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin which have been noted for hundreds of years in traditional medicine have benefits in reducing the spread of cancer metastases in prostate cancer.
The same team had earlier shown a similar result for the spread of breast cancer.  Both breast and prostate cancer are thought to be associated with latent or chronic inflammatory reactions, and the studies showed curcumin specifically reduced the formation of inflammatory proteins.

Curcumin Cancer Preventative

The German team, lead by Dr Beatrice Bachmeier, suggests curcumin should not be used as a replacement for conventional therapies, but could play a preventive role in preventing tumours, or to avert the formation of secondary tumours.
A daily intake of up to 8g of curcumin is regarded as safe, and its anti-inflammatory properties have long been exploited in traditional oriental medicine. The study suggests men with benign hyperplasia of the prostate (BHP) are one possible target group for preventive treatment, as are women who have a family history of breast cancer.