Human exposure to arsenic causes skin disorders, blood vessel disease, hypertension, and increased cancer risk. The symptoms include those caused by circulation, nerves of the body, skin, etc. Arsenic (especially arsenite) causes DNA abnormalities that are required for cancer to develop and reducing arsenic by treating DNA abnormalities would be one way of reducing cancer.
Curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric (Curcuma longa), contains polyphenols (a major class of organic chemicals) and is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and chemopreventive of cancer.
The present study, on normal white blood cells (lymphocytes), used healthy lymphocytes to see if curcumin can prevent the usual DNA damage caused by exposure to arsenic. Testing showed that arsenic caused DNA damage by the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxidation. Curcumin was shown to be effective in the prevention of that DNA damage, especially if the curcumin was given before the exposure to arsenic. Curcumin, at the micromolar level, worked by counteracting the ROS.
Curcumin increased the DNA repair of damage caused by arsenic and increased the repair enzyme, polymerase. Curcumin increased the detoxification enzymes, such as catalase, glutathione peroxidase and serum oxide dismutase (SOD).
CONCLUSION: Curcumin can play an important and economical role in reducing the carcinogenic effects of arsenic toxicity. Curcumin prevents DNA damage and speeds DNA repair in damaged cells.
NOTE: A severe problem with arsenic poisoning in areas of India and Bangladesh exists at this time (2009). Attempts are being made to find inexpensive treatments for the resulting health problems and the main source of the arsenic is the drinking water.
Read about the use of spirulina and zinc in chronic arsenic poisoning.
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