Curcumin May Prevent Bone Loss

It always helps to reread studies. Yesterday I had a second look at a study on curcumin and bone resorption published in 2004 in the Journal of Immunology (http://tinyurl.com/ynuvw7), according to which curcumin may be helpful in treating secondary bone lesions associated with breast cancer and multiple myeloma and those associated with nonmalignant diseases like postmenopausal osteoporosis, Paget’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis… Researchers examined the effects of curcumin on RANKL, which stands for: Receptor Activator for Nuclear Factor-kB Ligand. Before proceeding, though, what does RANKL have to do with MM? MM cells can stimulate this receptor activator: the level of RANKL expression by myeloma cells correlates significantly with osteolytic bone disease. (See: http://tinyurl.com/36evhl) Therefore, news of any RANKL inhibitor is GOOD news. And it just so happens that, according to the abovementioned Journal of Immunology study, RANKL induces osteoclastogenesis through the activation of NF-kB, and treatment with curcumin inhibits both the NF-kB activation and osteoclastogenesis induced by RANKL. Perfect.

I also read about a 2006 University of Arizona study (head researcher: Dr. Janet Funk) on bone loss and curcumin, see http://tinyurl.com/28cpqj. Bone loss is a big problem in MM. The proliferation of MM cells reaches the point of inhibiting the regular functioning of bone-forming cells. As a result we may develop lytic lesions, which look like holes (!) and put us at a great risk for fractures, not to mention pain. Under normal circumstances, osteoclasts (about which I have written in my post on ginger) are cells that rebuild what is called fatigued bone, with the help of osteoblasts. In MM, osteoclast activity is increased (bad bad bad!), which causes bone loss instead of bone repair. (I don’t want to get bogged down in the details of this process, which is well explained here: http://tinyurl.com/2894en) I found another study with the same results, i.e., curcumin induces apoptosis of osteoclasts: http://tinyurl.com/2r38aa What is relevant for us MMers, and indeed for anybody suffering from osteoporosis, is that curcumin inhibits excessive osteoclast formation. Excellent! A few more feathers in curcumin’s rather large cap, I’d say.

Now, in all fairness, I also read a study (http://tinyurl.com/2jwu63) that seems to indicate that curcumin inhibits the proliferation and mineralization of osteoblasts. If proved true, this would mean that curcumin might have opposing effects, which, however, might end up annulling each other (I may really be going out on a limb, here! 😉 ). That is, no bone loss but no gain, either. Among other things, the following study indicates that arthritic rats treated with curcumin showed improved mineral bone density: http://tinyurl.com/2tlt38 It will be interesting to see future developments based on studies carried out on actual human beings instead of rats and cell cultures. Of course, since I have been taking 8 grams of curcumin for more than 16 months and my most recent skeletal survey showed no lesions, I have the feeling that Dr. Funk’s research will turn out to be the winner. The eternal optimist! 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Dear Margaret,

    My name is Jenny and I am part of an online community called CarePlace, for people with similar health concerns and their caregivers. I came across your blog and story and want to introduce you to our site. I apologize for contacting you through comments but could not find an email address.

    We recently opened a new Multiple Myeloma community and forum and would love to hear what you think. We are excited to offer a unique online support network for those with MM. As your blog relates to what we are doing at CarePlace, I wonder if you might visit our site and let me know if you think it might be helpful to the people who communicate through and with you.

    At CarePlace, you can create your own webpage, join multiple communities, share an online journal with family members and friends and chat live with other members, in addition to sharing and supporting. CarePlace is a great resource for the exchange of ideas and information.

    It’s important to us to get feedback from people like you about CarePlace as we develop our site. Site address is http://www.CarePlace.com. Please add me as a friend (profile name Jen D). I would very much appreciate any insight and thoughts you have about our organization and the site.

    Thanks in advance!

    Jenny

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