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Reconciling Hope with Healthy Skepticism

Posts: 470
Joined: Feb 2011

Dear All,

Have been following the interchange between Claudia and JoAnn on efficacy of curcumin and want to thank them both, for we need both kinds of perspective whenever a promising new supplement is touted as a near godsend.

Long an admirer of Claudia's passion for nutriitional research and her instinct that "nature knows best," I suspect that turmeric--despite its low residue of curcumin--may indeed be a potent source of delivery precisely because it's packaged in its natural form. In a brilliant NY Times article a year ago, researcher Michael Pollan analyzed how micronutrients found in vegetables are rarely, when extracted in the form of supplements, as therapeutic as in their original form. For in distilling them, we have self-deludedly removed the phytochemicals that work synergistically with that element to make it potent. So those cooking with turmeric (especially adding olive oil and pepper) may well be receiving a potent source of its therapeutic power.

On the subject of curcumin as a capsule, yes, absorbability has been a challenge but not, I think, the eficacy of curcumin itself. Two early studies (2000-2003) did conclude that curcumin impeded the efficacy of certain chemo regimens. However, most recent ones have concluded the opposite, some even finding that curcumin can reduce resistance to such chemo regimens as taxol and carboplatin.

Despite these findings, I do sympathize with Jo Ann's exasperation with the promotion of so many "supplements du jour"--many of them, let's be honest, not well supported by clinical studies: the work of charlatans seeking to exploit the hunger for remedies less toxic than chemo and radiation. Her finding that Aggarwal, a chief researcher at MD Anderson just might be gaining profit from his own research, is one that I, despite my reluctwill consider carefully. (I'd like the date of that Scientific American article, however.) However, I'd also like to think, with Claudia, that he may have founded a new company precisely because absorbability continues to be a problem.

Thanks to both of them for creating a balanced picture, reminding us of the need to be hopeful yet also retain healthy skepticism.


Posts: 276
Joined: Jun 2011

I just did some searching, Rosey, and found that article is from 2007.

From what I have read Curry Pharmaceutical's goal is to create a synthetic curcumin-like substance.

daisy366's picture
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009


Thanks for your feedback. One issue we are bantering about is the ethics of profiting from research. I don't oppose people from profiting from their hard work. How else would we have so many wonderful inventions in our modern world - from rubber tires and lightbulbs to the internet? Example: Dr. Andrew Weil is well respected for his integrative medicine expertise and is a trail blazer is training doctors and the community at large. He is profiting from his CDs, books, website, supplements, magazine, etc. The marketplace is full of many good products - including Dr. Weil's - and it's hard for us to sort it all out.

In short, I don't think we should throw out the work and message of Dr. Aggarwal (the baby) because he is profiting/marketing his findings (the bath water). It's up to the consumer (with the help of good faith debates like we are having here) to sort it all out.

I thank all of you - Claudia, JoAnn, Rosey, et al. - for helping us learn more about this important topic.

Mary Ann

Posts: 276
Joined: Jun 2011

I agree MaryAnn, that many researchers, inventors, and scientists have rightfully and deservedly made profits from their life work.

I guess my problem with Dr. Aggarwal is that it just all does not seem above-board to me. Maybe because it is not only him profiting from his research, but he accepted money from a company that is making the product on which he is doing research. To me, that would skew the "equation" and somewhat taint any results.

daisy366's picture
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

However, at least this is public knowledge. I am naturally skeptical and I wonder how much other like research is done and we DON'T know stuff like this - it may be hidden from public knowledge.

I have done research myself and there are built in protections against bias. But we all know that anything is possible.

I had discussion with my doc once and he doesn't hold much stock (oops - no pun intended)in foods and supplements due to lack of research. I think it would be hard to do this type of thing on humans because there would need to be so many controls.

I did my own research of sorts a year ago - I had recurrence of UPSC in supraclavicular node. It was removed and biopsied and assumed that it was all surgically removed. Doc and I agreed to watchful waiting as next course of treatment. For the next 4 months I adhered to the anti-cancer diet. Results? I lost 15 pounds (due to diet alone - not exercise) and my ca125 steadily rose. Cancer continued progression and I resorted to chemo and radiation which, for now, has done the trick.

Doc does agree that STRESS and EXERCISE both effect cancer. Other factors to consider as we strive for wellness.

Wishing us all faith, strength, hope, and countless blessings. Mary Ann

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