The multifaceted role of curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment
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Despite significant advances in treatment modalities over the last decade, neither the incidence of the disease nor the mortality due to cancer has altered in the last thirty years. Available anti-cancer drugs exhibit limited efficacy, associated with severe side effects, and are also expensive. Thus identification of pharmacological agents that do not have these disadvantages is required. Curcumin, a polyphenolic compound derived from turmeric (Curcumin longa), is one such agent that has been extensively studied over the last three to four decades for its potential anti-inflammatory and/or anti-cancer effects. Curcumin has been found to suppress initiation, progression, and metastasis of a variety of tumors. These anti-cancer effects are predominantly mediated through its negative regulation of various transcription factors, growth factors, inflammatory cytokines, protein kinases, and other oncogenic molecules. It also abrogates proliferation of cancer cells by arresting them at different phases of the cell cycle and/or by inducing their apoptosis. The current review focuses on the diverse molecular targets modulated by curcumin that contribute to its efficacy against various human cancers.
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