Curcurmin and Piperine halt growth of breast stem cells

Cancer stem cells are the small number of cells within a tumour that fuel the tumour’s growth. Current chemotherapies do not work against these cells which is why cancer recurs and spreads. Researchers believe that eliminating cancer stem cells is key to controlling cancer.

And researchers at the University of Michigan have found that when the dietary compounds curcurmin (derived from turmeric) and piperine (from black peppers) were applied to breast cells in culture, they decreased the number of stem cells while having no effect on the normal process of cell development.

This means the compounds are not toxic to normal breast cell tissue. Curcumin and piperine have been explored by other researchers as a potential cancer treatment. But this paper is the first to suggest these dietary compounds could prevent cancer by targeting stem cells (1).

Piperine enhances the effects of curcurmin, and the compounds interrupted the self-renewal process that is the hallmark of cancer-initiating stem cells. The compounds used in the study are available in the same potency in capsule form.

Breast cancer statistics: 194,280 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40,610 will die from the disease (2) .

Additional authors: Dean Brenner, Hasan Korkaya, Connie Cheng, Karim Tazi, Christophe Ginestier, Suling Liu, Gabriel Dontu and Max Wicha, all from U-M.

1.Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

2.American Cancer Society

Courtesy of UMHS Newsroom

First Published in December 2009

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