Sunday, August 19, 2012

Curcumin and Life Extension

Curcumin and Life Extension

If you’re not suffering from severe pain or emotional distress, you probably would like to live longer.

And with that desire to live longer there naturally follows that humans will come up with many ways to make money off your desire for life extension.

In fact, there is an organization called Life Extension Foundation (LEF) that has a slick magazine and website. They sell dozens and dozens of pills that make a variety of claims.

Many of the pills they sell have the ingredient curcumin.
Curcumin is a chemical found naturally in the spice turmeric which is commonly used in Indian cooking.
Turmeric comes from the plant Curcuma longa.
Curcumin is thought to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Curcuma longa plant (from Wikipedia)




Curcumin chemical structure (Wikipedia)








Life Extension claims that: curcumin has been “found to increase detoxifying enzymes and promote healthy DNA function.  

They state that curcumin is “critical for optimal health” and you need to buy their special curcumin  that is better absorbed than the standard curcumin  supplement.

Wow! Those are amazing claims!
But do studies in humans show benefit from curcumin?
What do the randomized controlled trials in humans show?
Can curcumin extend life in any animal?

As of this date, there are over 5000 papers published on curcumin.

But there are very few trials in animals or humans that show benefit.
Two animal studies, one in the roundworm, one in the fruit fly, have shown life extension with curcumin. But neither of these two studies has been confirmed by other labs.

How about human studies? 

Curcumin is not helpful for cholesterol lowering. 

Two small studies done at the same center in Iran suggest benefit in kidney disease caused by lupus and diabetes.

One short-term small study with curcumin suggested benefit in patients with monoclonal gammopathy of uncertain significance (MGUS). MGUS can lead to multiple myeloma in some patients.

One study with curcumin seemed to show a reduced likelihood of relapse in persons with ulcerative colitis.

One study with curcumin along with quercetin showed benefit in early graft function after cadaveric kidney transplantation.

One study done in Thailand of the Curcuma plant extract seemed to show benefit for knee pain from osteoarthritis.

Although it has been thought that curcumin is poorly absorbed, curcumin is rapidly metabolized by the liver after absorption from the intestinal tract.

So curcumin shows promise. But a lot more work needs to be done on the value of curcumin if it is recommended as a supplement.

At this time, I’m not taking curcumin as a supplement. But I sure do enjoy my Indian cuisine.

And for the time being,  I will try to keep my weight down and my exercise up.
Sure that's a lot harder than taking a couple of pills. 
But weight control and exercise are two proven methods for life extension.



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