“Long-term follow-up of curcumin treated MGUS/SMM patients – an updated single centre experience”

In an email I received yesterday, Dr. Terry Golombick notified me that her team’s most recent article has been  published in the Journal of Hematology and Medical Oncology. It is available for free online…just click here: goo.gl/cEP93h

keep calm and turmeric onAhhhh. Wonderful…absolutely wonderful.

Wonderful, because finally…FINALLY (!!!)…we have a long-term look at a GROUP of MGUS and SMM patients taking curcumin. These are those who participated in the Australian MGUS/SMM study and who “continued to take curcumin over a number of years, of their own volition, even though the studies in which they were participating are complete.”

So this is a “long-term follow-up of 13 MGUS/SMM patients who have been taking curcumin (at a dose of 4 -8 grams daily) for a period of 3-9 years.”

Only one patient, who had cardiac amyloidosis (!), went on to full-blown myeloma and is currently undergoing conventional treatments. The rest of the patients are doing quite well, some better than others…anyway, you can read all the details in the report…

I really hope that this report will encourage more and more centers to start giving curcumin to their MGUS and SMM patients and, why not?, to their MM patients as well. At this point, I could go into a tirade about the short-sightedness of conventional medicine, but, at least for now, I’d rather look at the positive side, which is the publication of some CASE STUDIES, like the one concerning my blog reader D., and this Australian one.

I would like to end this post by stating that we all owe a large debt of gratitude to dedicated researchers like Dr. Golombick who have overcome all sorts of obstacles (I’m sure of that!!!) to help patients like us have the best quality of life possible, for as long as possible…

To all the Golombicks of the world: thank you, thank YOU, THANK YOU!!!  🙂 keep calm and watch and wait

By the way, let me remind you that Dr. Golombick and her team have set up a useful website for all of us who have a type of blood cancer. I’ve talked about it here on the blog, but just in case you missed that post, here is the link: https://www.watchandwaitbloodcancers.com/



A promising new treatment for deadly sepsis

I have to thank my niece for leading me to this NPR article, which turned out to be a very interesting read: https://goo.gl/qMRjtM sepsis

Incidentally, this article reminded me of a related something or other that I’d read a while ago, and so I had a quick look at PubMed where I found are a number of studies, mainly conducted on rats, suggesting that curcumin might be an effective treatment for sepsis infections. But of course there are no HUMAN clinical trials to this regard…

As for my own, limited, anecdotal experience, I have treated skin infections and weird rashes on my arms (about which I have written here on the blog) with turmeric and/or curcumin, with rather unexpected (amazing!) results. I have, thank goodness, never had a sepsis sort of infection, but if I ever do, I will certainly use curcumin for it.

Anyway, my point today is that it’s good to have open-minded doctors who think outside the box…Good stuff!

P.S.  If you want to read the “Danger Symptoms” (above), just click on the photo.

Cancer cells may prefer fats to sugar

I just read a fascinating new study about cancer cells slurping up lipids rather than glucose, as has been thought for a long time. I’m in a bit of a hurry now, but I thought I’d go ahead and publish the link: goo.gl/7x0eDs

By the way, please have a look at the comment that Charlotte left on my previous post, the one about the negative curcumin review. Dr. Michal Heger, University of Amsterdam, wrote a strong rebuttal to the review (Charlotte provides the link), and, interestingly, he had one of the same objections that I had, namely, that the review authors hadn’t looked at (or worse, had ignored) PubMed curcumin clinical trial results, where they would have found evidence negating their theory…

There you go. Thank you, Dr. Heger!

“The Essential Medicinal Chemistry of Curcumin”

No, I haven’t finished reading what I have called the negative review on curcumin, but I already have some preliminary comments, which I thought I’d go ahead and publish today. Here’s the link to the abstract, by the way: goo.gl/Ymh5DD

First impression: this review seems to prove that if you have a thesis, any kind of thesis on any kind of subject, you can look around and always find something to support it. If I wanted to prove that tinsel grows on trees, I’m sure I’d be able to find something online to prove that. Okay, okay, you’re probably right: my example is a bit too wacky. But I’m sure you see what I mean…

Seriously now: what if I told you only good things about curcumin and never touched on the potentially negative stuff? Not that there are many, as it happens, but, for example, what would you think of me if I didn’t warn you about the dangers of having gall bladder issues while taking curcumin? What if I didn’t tell you that you might experience some diarrhea, at least in the beginning?

Well, duh, I would never do that…

I mean, I’m not just some random person writing about curcumin. I actually take curcumin, every day, and at what is considered to be a high dose. I want to keep my smoldering myeloma stable for as long as possible. Oh, by the way, I should mention that I’ve been taking it for the past 11 years (January 2017 marked the start of my 11th curcumin-taking year), which I say is cause for celebration…  😎

Anyway, getting back to the point, I think it goes without saying that I don’t want to be taking anything that might harm me or cause my myeloma markers to worsen. How dumb would that be?

And I wouldn’t want anyone else to be taking something harmful, either. Duh.

And that is precisely why I will always read and comment and post about any negative information about curcumin. And so we get to the review that I mentioned in my January 12th post.

Ah, this review isn’t simple at all…lots of technical jargon…unraveling it could take a while. But, as I mentioned before, here are a few of my first impressions…comments…Ready? Let’s dive right in:

The researchers state the following, both in the abstract and in the body of their review: “The likely false activity of curcumin in vitro and in vivo has resulted in >120 clinical trials of curcuminoids against several diseases. No double-blinded, placebo controlled clinical trial of curcumin has been successful.”


My reactions can be boiled down to the following, for now at least:

  • What do those researchers consider to be a “successful” trial?
  • Do they realize that curcumin isn’t a drug and therefore does not and cannot behave like a drug?
  • Did they check every single double-blinded etc. clinical trial?

I cannot answer the first two questions yet (as I said, I haven’t gone through the entire review), but I can answer the third one. Surprisingly, the review authors chose to discuss only FOUR curcumin clinical trials. But it isn’t just that: they essentially admit that it would be pointless for them to examine the results of ALL the curcumin trials…for the purposes of their review, that is. And so they chose four “archetypical” curcumin trials that support their thesis…their thesis, that is, that curcumin is useless, therapeutically speaking.

I found that astounding.

I mean, how would you react if I declared the following, for example:

  • Premise: I have 135 neighbors (135 = same number of curcumin trials).
  • Thesis: all my neighbors have dogs.
  • Proof: I leaned out of my study window one day and saw 4 of my neighbors (4 = same number of clinical trials checked in the review) walking their dogs.
  • Conclusion: all my neighbors have dogs.

Of course, you’d say that’s ridiculous. And you would be right.

You can’t just consider the specific trials that support your theory.

This means that if you are making sweeping statements about curcumin, it is indeed NOT “beyond the scope” of your work to look at ALL the trials that have results. But that is what  seems to have occurred here.

Note: the review authors tell us that they chose these trials because the data is available on the clinicaltrials.gov website. Um, I’d like to point out that there are curcumin clinical trial results in PubMed, too…

Let’s look at their first choice, which I thought was quite interesting for a variety of reasons, as we will see:

The goal of a recent University of Rochester study testing curcumin on breast cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy was to reduce radiation-caused dermatitis. Its results, the review authors say, are “inconclusive.”

I looked up the results on the clinical trial website (as far as I know, and as far as the review authors know, the results have not been published anywhere else yet), and yes, true, there was not much difference between the Mean Radiation Dermatitis Severity Scores of the two groups: 2.02 in the curcumin group, 1.99 in the placebo group.

However, I didn’t stop there.

I found a previous University of Rochester clinical trial, in which curcumin was tested on a group of breast cancer patients. Same group of researchers, same center (University of Rochester), same everything, including dosage, except that in this trial, there were only 30 women, compared to 686 women in the second trial.

The results of the smaller clinical trial led the University of Rochester researchers to state the following:

In conclusion, oral curcumin, 6.0 g daily during radiotherapy, reduced the severity of radiation dermatitis in breast cancer patients.” And, quoting from the full study: “Overall, although curcumin did not completely prevent radiation dermatitis in this trial, the reduction in moist desquamation is clinically significant and suggests improved quality of life during RT.”

You can read the abstract and download the full study (for free) here: goo.gl/SRVLI2

Now, in order to understand why there were such different results between the two trials, we will just have to wait for the full study to be published…Pointless to speculate about results without having access to all the information, right?

Note: the review authors chose not to mention the earlier, smaller trial, even though it had results (in fact, very good results), and even though it was carried out at the same center…and, let me add, even though the full study was published online…and for free, as we have seen.

Well, I suppose it’s clear at this point that I didn’t just look at the clinical trials website. I also checked out PubMed where I found a number of curcumin clinical trials whose results are “successful,” at least in my opinion. And that includes the Australian curcumin trials, which concern us, in particular…

But it’s time for lunch now, and then I have stuff to do, so I have to leave it at that, for today. Ciao!!! 🙂

Curcumin kills malignant mesothelioma cell lines

Well no, it’s not myeloma, but mesothelioma (but its acronym is MM, too), which is a terrible cancer with poor survival rates, high resistance to conventional therapies, etc.

Previous studies have showed that curcumin might help in the treatment of mesothelioma, but the one I read about today has just come out, and it’s from the University of Rome, Italy (I always have a soft spot for Italian studies…): goo.gl/AkwLBg Interesting…Poor mice, though…!!!

From this link, you can read more about it, if you want. And if you want to have a look at the abstract, click on this link: goo.gl/ytXK0c

I’m going to finish reading the anti-curcumin review this afternoon…Wish me luck!  🙄

Turmeric compound boosts regeneration of brain stem cells

I’ve been working on a rather complicated post (don’t ask…) but decided to take a break today, after what happened in Paris yesterday…No words can express my horror..all I can say is: “Je Suis Charlie.”

It’s hard to focus on anything else…but earlier today I came across an intriguing Science Daily article on a study showing that another compound of turmeric — not curcumin, but something called ar-turmerone — “promotes stem cell regeneration and differentiation in the brain.” And so I decided to post the link: http://goo.gl/rNXok5

In addition to imbibing vast quantities of curcumin every day, I also use turmeric, the spice, in my cooking. Often. And now I’m VERY glad I do!

Leukemic cells transformed back into normal cells: could that be possible…some day?

I was fascinated and intrigued by almost everything I read in this New Yorker article written by Jerome Groopman who is, among other things, a hematologist: https://goo.gl/ (thanks for posting the link on FB, Don!) I’m going to re-read the article tomorrow…it contains so much food for thought, too much for just one session, in my opinion…but in the meantime I thought I’d post the link so that you can have a look, too, if you want…

The article focuses on the idea that some day we might be able to turn leukemic cells into normal, healthy red and white blood cells and platelets, using a drug that doesn’t kill everything in its path (= healthy cells as well as cancer cells) but that targets only the leukemic cells…without killing them! Mind boggling, isn’t it?

It’s impossible to list all the other interesting stuff that you can read about in this article — for example, the case studies described by Dr. Groopman…the section he devotes to pancreatic cancer and pancreatic cancer patients and the Notch gene (I’ve written some posts on the dastardly Notch mutation, which is important in myeloma, too…just do a Search of my blog for “Notch”). And, by the way, curcumin inhibits Notch…yep, it does. Again, search my blog…

Anyway, if you find yourself without anything good to read this weekend, click on the above link. You won’t be sorry, I’m sure!

Okay, I need to get back to work now. Ciao! 🙂

“Why I’ve ditched statins for good.”

This post was inspired by a fascinating article I read this morning (many thanks to Libby for the link!) written by a vascular surgeon and published in The Telegraph just a few days ago: http://goo.gl/Es1XXS Please have a look…It’s a very good read.

Personal story: my Dad has always had high cholesterol and took statins for a while, many many many years ago, on the advice of his doctor. Dad’s follow-up blood test results did show a decrease in his “bad” (= LDL) cholesterol, but his “good” (HDL) cholesterol had decreased, too. This meant that his actual risk of developing heart disease went up, not down. And so, with his doctor’s approval, he stopped taking statins immediately. So far, so good…knock on wood!


I have inherited this familial high cholesterol loveliness, but I have never taken statins. And then, some time after I began taking curcumin (= more than eight years ago, yippeeee!), I noticed a decrease in my cholesterol AND an even more significant decrease in my triglycerides. My cholesterol is currently much lower than it was in the pre-curcumin period, and that, coupled with my decreased triglycerides, has taken my heart disease risk down to zilch, practically–one of the many beneficial side effects of curcumin. Incidentally, the same has happened to my Dad–once he began taking curcumin, his cholesterol went down. And it has stayed down.

So WHY aren’t doctors prescribing curcumin instead of statins, which come with a host of side effects (increased risk of developing diabetes, among other, er, pleasant things)…side effects that curcumin definitely doesn’t have, by the way…

Well, I think we can all figure out the answer to that question…! (See also the Telegraph article for more on this.)

And now, under new guidelines, it looks as though a lot more people in the U.S.A. will be “eligible” to take these drugs (I’m sure big pharma is celebrating big time!). Unbelievable. See: http://goo.gl/q7N7Xg

No, of course I’m not saying that nobody at all should be on statins. Perhaps they do help some folks (= the big pharma CEO bank accounts, in particular! 😉 ). I’m just saying that I personally would never ever take them. And I’m very glad my Dad isn’t taking them anymore (and my sister, too, btw).

The Telegraph article gives us a lot of food for thought–the surgeon’s dietary changes (sugar), the fact that statins decrease CRP (= C-reactive protein), which is also a marker for myeloma…but then, curcumin decreases CRP, too…and, again, without all the potentially very nasty side effects…

And here is more food for thought: “In my view, high total blood cholesterol or high LDL levels no more cause heart attacks than paramedics cause car crashes, even though they are present at the scene. Just lowering cholesterol with drugs without sorting out the dietary and lifestyle factors that actually cause heart disease is nonsensical.” Interesting, huh?

The article also discusses the results of a Norwegian cholesterol study that followed 52,000 men and women with no pre-existing heart disease, for a period of ten years: “The results for women were crystal clear. The lower a woman’s total cholesterol, the greater her risk of dying, either of heart disease or anything else, including cancer. This reflects findings in previous studies.” Wow.

Okay, that definitely did it for me. I’m keeping my still high-ish but not-as-high-as-before cholesterol!


I know, I know. Thanksgiving 2013 is over, so I should have written this post last week. But, to be honest, I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving over here in Italy, so I can be thankful any day, right?

It happened on Saturday, as I was baking my first batches of Christmas cookies (I spent the entire weekend baking like a madwoman, while listening, dancing and singing to all sorts of music…until I ran out of butter, that is…bah…I mean, how can a baker RUN OUT OF BUTTER????).

Sure, I’ve always known this to be true, but it really hit me on Saturday. Simply put, I realized how lucky I am to have someone like Stefano in my life…My tall, dark, handsome, totally devoted ( to me, of course!!!), brilliantly intelligent and wickedly funny Italian sweetie…

Now, what I’m about to write is going to sound even cornier, but here goes anyway: I really doubt that two people could love each other more than we do. What binds us isn’t “just” love, actually: we have a lot of fun together, we share many of the same interests (bird watching, traveling, cats, etc.)…list goes on…and on…and we’re best friends…AND he scratches my back in bed (= one of the reasons I married him, in fact, hehe)…Ti amo tantissimo, Stefano.

OKAY! Quick change of topic, before this post gets too gooey and starts melting the blog!!! 😉

I have an update on my test results. Yesterday I spoke with my doctor who told me that my myeloma has indeed “moved” a little bit, as I already suspected. He added, however, that it’s probably because I fell off the curcumin wagon (by taking a lower dose, that is…stooooopid me!), and that my test results in late January or early February will be better. For the record: I think so, too. Ah, in case you’re wondering (I wondered, too), this doesn’t mean I’m not smoldering anymore. We’ll just have to see how my next results are (and the ones after that).

He did note the fact that many of my important markers, such as B2M and CRP, haven’t budged at all (or have, indeed, improved a bit). A very good sign, he said. So he feels sure that I can knock the myeloma back to where it was…a gentle knock, mind you (my doctor and I don’t believe in throwing kitchen sinks, as the saying goes, but rather in giving gentle pushes in the right direction…). All in all, therefore, it was a very positive discussion…

I’ve added 1.5 grams of quercetin to my daily dose of 8 grams of C3 Complex curcumin, and I’m probably going to add some ashwagandha (see my “article” on the right, titled “ashwaganda/withanolides”), which did me so well on two separate occasions in the past. And, since my parathyroid is a bit up, too, I’m also taking vitamin D…

Gentle pushes…

Oh, my doctor gave me a welcome bit of news: my albumin levels are about the same as they were last time. I was looking at the wrong result, duh. That is a huge relief…So I am going to correct my recent test result post in that sense…

Another, unrelated!, bit of news: I’m leaving for the United States on Saturday. This Saturday, Dec 7th. I’m going to be staying with my parents for about ten days, then the three of us are driving to Logan Airport in Boston where we’re going to meet up with Stefano (flying in the same day from Italy). The four of us are then getting on a plane to Arizona. We’re spending our Xmas holiday in Phoenix (where Stefano and I have NEVER been!) with my sister and niece, my niece’s family, plus a nephew and his daughter. This reunion was planned months ago…We haven’t all been together for YEARS now, so, well, I can’t wait!!! Verrrrrry exciting!

No promises, but I’ll try to read, and post about, a couple of studies before leaving… 🙂

Curcumin beats chemoresistance and helps thalidomide and bortezomib fight myeloma

A new study, carried out by a group of MD Anderson researchers and published this month in “Molecular Cancer Therapeutics” (see abstract: http://tinyurl.com/c2hlfx) confirms what we already knew about curcumin’s synergy with bortezomib.*


The researchers performed experiments on myeloma cells and also on nude mice. Now, since I frequently read about “nude mice,” some time ago I gathered the courage to do a bit of research… almost wish I hadn’t!…at any rate, these mice are simply hairless (hence their nickname “nude”), not in need of a new set of clothes. Most importantly, though, due to a genetic mutation, they are born without a thymus and thus have an inhibited immune system, which means that they are not able to reject tissue or tumour grafts (they also have little or no defence against viruses and all sorts of nasty stuff, poor dears). Therein lies their usefulness.


Now, let me state that, after reading about nude mice, not to speak of other lab animals!, I finally stopped regretting that I didn’t choose science as my major in college and grad school. Ah yes, I’d have been the crazy student taking all the nude mice home, wrapping them in warm shawls and keeping them as pets…hmmm, something tells me that my brilliant scientific career wouldn’t have lasted very long…


Okay, now that that is all cleared up, and I have admitted publicly to how silly I am, let’s proceed. An important result of this new study is that curcumin inhibited the proliferation of human multiple myeloma cells regardless of their sensitivity to dexamethasone, doxorubicin, or melphalan. The wonderful orange powder also helped bortezomib and thalidomide kill myeloma cells by reducing NF-kappaB’s incessant hyperactivity (=a bad BAD thing!), which also affected the gene products under its control (cyclin D1, etc.).


Going on to the full study, now (grazieeee, Sherlock!). After a paragraph dealing with the usual dire myeloma statistics, blablabla, we find out that the researchers used C3 Complex, the curcumin that I (and many others) take. Good to know.


And then we get to the actual experiment, which I will try to summarize. The nude mice were divided into four groups: 1. the control group, which was treated just with corn oil and saline; 2. the curcumin alone group (1 gram of curcumin per kilogram…holy cats, that seems like a LOT! Ah no, wait, see my footnote**); 3. the bortezomib alone group, and 4. the curcumin and bortezomib combo group.


25 days after the treatment start date, the mice were killed, and their tumours examined. Skipping the long and detailed explanation of how this process was carried out, let’s get to the results. Compared with the other three groups, the biggest tumours were in the control group, as to be expected. There was instead a significant decrease in tumour volume in both the curcumin and bortezomib groups, i.e., 2 and 3. But in group 4, the combo group, the tumours were even smaller: When examined for tumor volume on different days, we found that curcumin + bortezomib combination was much more effective in reducing the tumor volume compared with either agent alone.


As for thalidomide, the researchers used myeloma cells treated with curcumin in combination either with bortezomib or thalidomide and found that Curcumin potentiated the apoptotic effect of bortezomib from 25% to 85% and thalidomide from 10% to 75%. Not bad at all…


Another interesting titbit, for those who remember my PARP cleavage post: When we examined the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, which indicates caspase-3 activation, a well-known characteristic of apoptosis, we found that curcumin potentiated the effect of bortezomib and thalidomide. In this particular case, curcumin worked better with thalidomide.


Now for the Discussion part: First, cells resistant to chemotherapeutic agents have been shown to express increased activation of NF-kB and suppression of this NF-kB can sensitize the cells to the drug. Second, multiple myeloma cells and mantel cell lymphoma are known to express constitutive active NF-kB that is resistant to bortezomib. Fairly clear, no?


Then we get to an interesting titbit concerning CRP: C-reactive protein, whose expression is regulated by NF-kB, has been shown to enhance the proliferation of myeloma cells and protect myeloma cells from chemotherapy-induced apoptosis both in vitro and in vivo. Among other things, CRP also increases the production of IL-6 with which it works synergistically to protect myeloma cells from chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. Bad stuff…!


Other proteins that help myeloma cells become resistant to the attacks of chemo drugs are cyclin D1, the members of the infamous Bcl family and survivin. I have posted about all of these buggers. At any rate, the study confirms that curcumin down-regulates all of them…as we already knew from previous posts.


Like curcumin, bortezomib inhibits the activation of NF-kappaB, but through different mechanisms. As follows: Bortezomib inhibits the proteasome, resulting in the accumulation of IkBa, whereas curcumin prevents IkB phosphorylation, thus blocking its subsequent ubiquitination and degradation through suppression of upstream kinase IKK. Thus, these different mechanisms of NF-kB suppression provide the rationale for combining these agents to effectively inhibit NF-kB activation. Now, even if we don’t understand the meaning of all this, what is clear is that curcumin and bortezomib attack myeloma cells and reduce NF-kB activity in different ways. And that is exactly why, when combined, they work better than when they are used alone.


Another useful characteristic of curcumin: it can help alleviate fatigue and peripheral neuropathy, which are common side effects of the conventional chemo drugs used to treat myeloma. Indeed, the study states that these effects can be REVERSED by curcumin. No comment needed here, methinks…


The study ends with a very strong statement: In conclusion, the chemoresistance remains a major challenge in the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma as well as other cancers. Multiple myeloma patients who have relapsed after conventional dose chemotherapy or stem cell transplantation are typically treated with high-dose corticosteroids, thalidomide, or bortezomib. However, a large number of these patients do not respond to treatment with these agents. Moreover, prolonged exposure leads to the development of resistance and toxicity, and progression-free and overall survival times for multiple myeloma patients are short. The ability of curcumin to suppress NF-kB activation, down-regulate the expression of cyclin D1 and Bcl-xL, inhibit cell proliferation, potentiate the effects of bortezomib and thalidomide, and overcome chemoresistance provides a sound basis for conducting clinical trials with curcumin, alone or in combination with other agents, to enhance treatment efficacy, reduce toxicity, and overcome chemoresistance of relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma.


*Probably based on the fact that I mention chemo treatments from time to time, especially bortezomib (Velcade), more than a few readers have asked me if I have ever had any conventional treatments. The answer is no. For more on that, please see “My Discovery of Curcumin” page, which, er, needs some updating, for instance I have been taking curcumin for more than three years now, not just two…but anyway, the basic info is there.


**When I first saw that 1 g/kg (or 1000 mg/kg) of curcumin was the daily dose administered to the nude mice in group 2 and 4, I thought that that would translate into a massive amount of curcumin for humans. But then I vaguely recalled that there were differences between mice and humans, other than the, uhm, rather obvious ones. And I remembered that there was a way to convert doses from mice to humans. A bit of research led me to a 2008 study (http://tinyurl.com/cv6opy) dealing with this very topic and providing, yay!, the converting formula. So, unless my math is even worse than I thought (!), based on this formula and a 60 kg human being, 1000 mg/kg x 3 = 3000; 3000 : 37 = 81 x 60 = 4860 mg/daily dose. That means: less than 5 grams of curcumin a day in human terms. So for the past three years plus I have been taking a larger dose of curcumin than was used in this study. Interesting. And finally, an appeal to all my blog-reading math whizzes: would you mind checking my calculations? Thanks! It just seems way too simple, that’s all…