TURMERIC FOR SKIN CANCER
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in humans. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five American will develop skin cancer at same point of their lives.
Cancer occurs when normal cells undergo a transformation during growth and develop into abnormal cells which spreads to other parts of body. Skin cancer are cancers that arise from skin. There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Melanoma is generally the most serious form of skin cancer because it tends to spread (metastasize) throughout the body quickly. The first two together generally referred as non melanoma skin cancer which are usually curable unless found in far advanced state. Skin cancer is also known as skin neoplasia.
Ultraviolet light is the main cause of skin cancer and exposure to sun rays for long period of time increases the risk of skin cancer.Other risks which also lead to skin cancer include presence of cuts, burns and atypical moles on skin surface. Having Actinic Keratosis (AKs) means having lot of damage on skin and exposure to X-rays also increases the chances of skin cancer. Individuals having previous family history of skin cancer are also at high risk of developing this disease. Smoking and chewing tobacco also increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma, cancer of mouth or throat. Avoiding sun exposure for long period of time in susceptible individual is the best way to lower the risk of all types of cancer. Other preventive measures include using proper sunscreen with sun protective factors (SPF) both UVA and UVB protection, using sunglasses and avoiding sun tanning.
Skin cancer symptoms
Basal cell carcinoma on the head or neck may first appear asa pale patch of skin or a waxy translucent bump. If the carcinoma develops on the chest it may look more like a brownish scar or flesh colored lesion. As the cancer develops, it may bleed or ooze if injured.
Squamous cell carcinoma may also develop as a lump on skin,however unlike basal cell carcinoma these firm lumps may be rough on the surface which remain with the time and continue to develop slowly. This type of cancer typically found on the head, neck, hands or arms but also can develop in other areas like genital regions.
Melanoma skin cancer signs include new spots on the skin, ora change in size, shape or colour of the existing mole. Other signs include pigment, redness or swelling that spreads outside the border of a spot,itchiness, tenderness or pain and in some cases it leads to oozing or bleeding from mole.
Prevention and Treatment
Regular surveillance of the skin for unusual growth, changes in colour in susceptible individual both by self-examination and regular physical examination is the best way to avoid occurrence of skin cancer. The main treatment for skin cancer is surgery which depend on type of cancer, sizeof cancer and stage of cancer. Most basal cell and squamous cell cancers are successfully treated with surgery where the affected part is removed by surgical equipment’s under local anaesthetic. Other treatments include Radiotherapy where affected part is exposed to radiations in lab condition and mainly used when cancer spreads to lymph nodes. Chemotherapy tablets and injections are only used for such cancer which are spread and not easy to cure. Achemotherapy cream containing fluorouracil is commonly used. Other treatments include Immuno therapy and Vaccine therapy.
Turmeric for Skin Cancer
Herbs in India have always been used for various treatment of diseases. Among which turmeric plant has very long history of medicinal use,almost 4000 years back, hence it is also known as “Indian saffron”. In Ayurvedic medicine turmeric is used in various respiratory conditions (e.g.Asthma, bronchial hyperactivity and allergy) as well as liver disorder,anorexia, diabetic wounds, runny rose sinusitis, sprains and swellings. Intraditional Chinese medicine, it is used to treat disease associated with abdominal pain. In food and manufacturing, its essential oils are use in perfumes, and turmeric and its resins are used as a flavour and colour component in food. But mainly turmeric is used as a culinary spice in Asian cooking and is a major ingredient in curry powders. Because of its various anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-cancerous, anti-mutagenic properties it has started recognizing importance in modern medicine. Laboratory studies have found that the active ingredient present in root or rhizome of the plant is called curcumin has antioxidant and anti-cancer effects. According to the studies curcumin slows the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Mode of Action of curcumin
Studies showed that curcumin, a yellow polyphenol compound extracted from rhizome of turmeric plant (Curcumalonga) has potent anticancer properties. According to the International Journal of cancer curcumin was found to have protective effects against skin tumours and colon cancer. In human studies, a dilute ointment applied to skin cancer lesions resulted in reducing itching and pain. Reports from European Journal of cancer (2005) showed that curcumin possess wide range of anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties due to its potent antioxidant capacity at neutral and acidic pH, its inhibition of cell signalling pathway at multiple levels, its diverse effects on cellular enzymes and its effects on angiogenesis and cell adhesion. Hence it was proved that curcumin interferes with several molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth and spread and inhibit the formation of cancer causing enzymes thus plays very important role in modern medicines. Curcumin has powerful antioxidant property and hence it helps in fighting against free radicals in body which damages cell membrane, DNA thus preventing cell death. In addition curcumin lowers the amounts of two enzymes which causes inflammation. It also stops platelets from clumping together to form blood clots. Curcumin stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile thus improves digestion. Curcumin has also found to relieve osteoarthritis pain because of its anti-inflammatory property.
Turmeric is considered safe under conventional daily consumption amounts for most adults. And in US it is referred as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). Researchers have shown that there are low rates of certain types of cancer in countries where people eat curcumin at levels of about 100-200mg a day over long period of time. Now a days turmeric supplements are available in form of capsules containing powder, liquid extracts and tincture. The roots, rhizome and bulbs of plants are generally boiled, then dried turning into yellow powder. It is found that bromelain increases the absorption and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin, it is often combined with turmeric product.
Precautions with turmeric
Turmeric supplements are not recommended for children. And even in adults it should be taken after consulting your doctor because high dosage of turmeric has shown side effects on humans such as nausea, diarrhea,dizziness and long term usage can result in stomach ulcers and allergic reactions. Sometimes application of turmeric directly to the skin can lead to discoloration which are difficult to remove. And turmeric supplements are not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Diabetic patients and individual having problem with bile passage and presence of gall stones should consult their physician before taking turmeric supplements too. In pregnancy it might stimulate menstrual flow and pain in uterus. Turmeric may also interfere with the action of some drugs e.g. 1) Blood thinners raising the risk of bleeding, 2) Drugs that reduce stomach acid leading to increase in production of stomach acid, 3) Diabetic medicines increasing the risk of hypoglycaemia. Hence it always recommended to take these curcumin supplements under proper medical supervision. Similarly even turmeric is considered as a natural home remedy for long period of time but it is not officially approved for use in cancer treatments. And according to American cancer Society, solely using turmeric for skin cancer is not recommended and proper medical treatments should be followed for better recovery.