Life Extension Update
Curcumin and cruciferous vegetable compound help prevent, treat prostate cancer in vivo
A report published in the January 15, 2006 issue of the journal Cancer Research http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/ revealed that a combination of curcumin, which is derived from the spice turmeric, and phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a compound derived from a class of vegetables that includes watercress, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, helped prevent prostate cancer as well as aided in its treatment in an animal study.
Ah-Ng Tony Kong and his colleagues at Rutgers' Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy treated mice with injections of curcumin, PEITC, or both compounds three times per week for four weeks. On the second day of the treatment period, the mice were implanted with human prostate cancer cells. "Despite convincing data from laboratory cell cultures, we knew little about how PEITC and curcumin would perform in live animals, especially on prostate cancer," Dr Kong explained. "So we undertook this study to evaluate how effective PEITC and curcumin might be – individually and in combination – to prevent and possibly treat prostate cancer."
They discovered that either nutrient retarded tumor growth, and that the combination was even more effective. The researchers then tested curcumin and PEITC in mice with fully established tumors and found that together the nutrients significantly reduced tumor growth, although either ingredient administered alone failed to demonstrate a benefit, suggesting that they may be effective as single agents for prevention but not for late stages of tumor growth. Dr Kong, who is a professor of pharmaceutics at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, stated, "The bottom line is that PEITC and curcumin, alone or in combination, demonstrate significant cancer-preventive qualities in laboratory mice, and the combination of PEITC and curcumin could be effective in treating established prostate cancers.”
The authors note that India has a low incidence of prostate cancer compared to the United States, which has been attributed to the large number of phytochemical-rich foods such as turmeric that are consumed in that country.
Our current ability to assess disease is compromised by issues of resolution; what you see is not always what you have. The approach to "early stage" PC is confused by the fact that so-called "early stage" PC is frequently not early. In other words, what appears to be localized PC is often beyond the confines of the prostate gland. Our assessment of cancer extent (staging), in general, is often incorrect. That is, we underestimate the extent or stage of the cancer with the tools that we currently have available.
If we are to categorize PC as "early," we need to scrutinize men newly diagnosed with PC and optimally use the available staging tools. If PC is not confined to the prostate, then local therapies such as radical prostatectomy (RP) and radiation therapy (RT) will not eradicate or cure the disease. If PC is verified to be confined to the prostate (organ-confined) to the best of our ability, then a second important variable must be considered if local treatment is to be successful-the volume of the cancer. If the volume is too great, local RT-be it external beam RT, seed implantation, or cryosurgery-will not likely eradicate the disease. Therefore, two significant variables must be addressed for local therapy to optimally eradicate disease. These are:
These basic tenets are true for the vast majority of malignancies, not just for PC. Determination of the extent of disease is called "staging." The determination of the volume of cancer is often incorporated into staging. However, the volume of the disease plays a very important role in the ability of local therapies such as RT (external beam RT or brachytherapy) and cryosurgery to cure a patient with PC (Bostwick et al., Urology, 1993; Babaian et al., J. Urol., 1995).
An often overlooked member of the cruciferous vegetable family, watercress is an “exceptionally rich source” of potent cancer-fighting isothiocyanates, including a much-studied compound known as phenethyl isothiocyanate, or PEITC.
For men, PEITC has particular value in preventing prostate cancer. Noting that epidemiological evidence shows a strong association between greater intake of cruciferous vegetables and reduced risk of prostate cancer, scientists in New York sought to identify the specific compounds responsible for cancer prevention. They found that a conjugate of PEITC, which is abundant in watercress, inhibited proliferation and tumorigenesis of prostate cancer cells growing in culture.
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