Chemotherapy is one of the most commonly used conventional treatments for cancer. This drug-based approach aims to prevent cancer cells from dividing and growing by killing them. Unfortunately, chemotherapy has very low efficacy and many cancer cells are able to survive it. To make things worse, the cancer cells that survive can develop resistance to the treatment used, which makes it even more difficult to get rid of them. Moreover, chemotherapy doesn't just target cancerous cells but healthy cells as well. This leads to side effects like nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, low white blood cell count, bleeding, anemia, loss of appetite, and mental health problems.
There are different ways to overcome chemoresistance. These include targeting the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-binding cassette (ABC) transporters, inducing cell apoptosis, inhibiting DNA repair, regulating metabolic reprogramming, or using combination therapy. But even with this information, chemoresistance remains a big challenge to chemotherapy.
There are many natural substances that are being considered as possible solutions to this problem. One of these is turmeric. Previous studies have shown that this superfood can improve the sensitivity of doxorubicin-resistant MCF-7 breast cancer cells. However, there are no prior reports on the anticancer effects of furanodiene or essential oil from turmeric on chemo-resistant cancer cells by means of ABC transporters regulation.
In this study, published in the journal Chinese Medicine, the researchers observed the expression and function of ABC transporters in doxorubicin-resistant MCF-7 breast cancer cells. They subjected these cells to treatment either by turmeric essential oil or furanodiene. Afterward, they evaluated the effects on the ABC transporters and the viability of the doxorubicin-resistant breast cancer cells. The results showed that turmeric essential oil and furanodiene significantly reduced the viability of the cancer cells. However, the observation also revealed that these two were not specific inhibitors of ABC transporters.
Overall, the results of this study suggest that turmeric has potent anticancer properties that work even against chemoresistant cancer cells. With further studies, this superfood could be used as a natural remedy against cancer. (Related: Turmeric able to 'smart kill' cancer cells... chemotherapy and radiation now medically obsolete.)
Over the years, turmeric has gained much attention for its many health benefits. Some examples of these include the following: