Curcumin for chemoprevention of colon cancer
The most practical approach to reduce the morbidity and mortality of cancer is to delay the process of carcinogenesis through the use of chemopreventive agents. This necessitates that safer compounds, especially those derived from natural sources must be critically examined for chemoprevention. A spice common to India and the surrounding regions, is turmeric, derived from the rhizome of Curcuma longa. Pre-clinical studies in a variety of cancer cell lines including breast, cervical, colon, gastric, hepatic, leukemia, oral epithelial, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate have consistently shown that curcumin possesses anti-cancer activity in vitro and in pre-clinical animal models. The robust activity of curcumin in colorectal cancer has led to five phase I clinical trials being completed showing the safety and tolerability of curcumin in colorectal cancer patients. To date clinical trials have not identified a maximum tolerated dose of curcumin in humans with clinical trials using doses up to 8000mg per day. The success of these trials has led to the development of phase II trials that are currently enrolling patients. Overwhelming in vitro evidence and completed clinical trials suggests that curcumin may prove to be useful for the chemoprevention of colon cancer in humans. This review will focus on describing the pre-clinical and clinical evidence of curcumin as a chemopreventive compound in colorectal cancer.