Interview with Prof. Bharat Aggarwal: thinking outside the box

It is raining in Florence today, it’s damp, chilly and miserable out there, but for me it couldn’t be a lovelier, sunnier day. Ah yes, thanks to a December 2009 interview with Prof. Bharat Aggarwal that I read this morning, I am as happy as a purring cat. A blog reader sent me the link, thank you sooo much. The interview contains a huge amount of valuable information…in just two pages. The main thing, in my opinion, is that it answers many of our questions and doubts about the bioavailability of curcumin. But there is much more, too, so please have a look:

The issue of bioavailability is of particular relevance to those of us who take curcumin. Yes, Prof. Aggarwal is right, curcumin is cheap compared to conventional drugs. But it can still be a drain on our household finances (I am lucky to have very generous, loving parents!). Think of it this way: you wouldn’t buy a pair of jeans that was three sizes too big/too small for you, right? No, you buy a pair that fits. The same principle applies to curcumin or anything else, for that matter. You want to invest in something that fits/works/etc. That is why I always tell people who want to start taking curcumin to try it for a couple of months and see if their cancer markers go down. Ah, but I digress, as usual.

My point is, and I have written about this in previous posts, if curcumin does not show up in huge amounts in the bloodstream, it is probably working at some other level. Otherwise, how could I have remained stable for almost four years? How could it work for so many of my blog readers/myeloma list friends? That would make no sense. Well, we don’t have to wonder anymore. Prof. Aggarwal explains very clearly what happens when we swallow our daily dose of curcumin. I think that this interview provides us all with plenty of food for thought.

He points out that curcumin is circulated quickly and is taken up by tissues very quickly. Within 10 to 20 minutes it is already in the brain. Consequently, it is pointless for researchers to attempt to find traces of curcumin in the bloodstream. Aha.

I was particularly interested in his answer to the last question…I didn’t know that 30% of all cancers are indolent. Wow, that is quite a high percentage! And I loved the way he compared asymptomatic cancer to a tiger: With cancer, in some cases the tiger is sitting there somewhere and needs to be left alone. If you start throwing stones at the tiger, he will strike back. Indeed, I have thought the exact same thing since my 2005 diagnosis, but I had no scientific proof, just a gut feeling…

I will conclude with what Prof. Aggarwal says about prevention. In my opinion, he is absolutely right: If we continue to prevent and treat cancer the way we are currently doing and have been doing for the past 50 years, the next 50 years will not be any different. We have to learn to think outside the box. We have put too much emphasis on survival of the pharmaceutical companies and not enough focus on the survival of the patients.

This last sentence really struck a chord with me.


Thank you, Prof. Aggarwal.


  1. Some of your more inquisitive readers might have followed your link to its source, Natural Medicine Journal, where they might have found a plethora of ‘out-of-the-box’ articles. If you are reading this then there is a good possibility that your immune system could use some appropriate modulation. There are countless immune modulating substances out there both naturally occurring (i.e. curcumin) and man made (i.e. Revlimid and steriods). Finding, choosing and applying the appropriate one at the optimal time in the most effective manner is a daunting task. Then there is all the non-substance immune modulating methodologies like laughter and meditation. Is your head spinning yet…

    As a scientist I hold strong to the premise “that what I don’t know I don’t know” (what I have never even dreamed of) is by far the greatest source of knowledge. The chances that a cure for what ails us will be found ‘out-of-the-box’ far exceeds the chances of it being in the box. Using this logic it probably doesn’t even involve a box, maybe a complex polyhedron. In fact there are far more non-physical possibilities than there are physical. Oh goodness, now I’ve really gone off the deep end. I better go levitate upside down in the corner until my chi manifests more rationally.

  2. I’m a believer! I’ve been taking curcumin for a year now. There have been no adverse effects at all. Am I still stable because of curc? There’s no way to know for sure, but at least it’s not hurting me or waking the tiger.

  3. Margaret,
    Hmmm. That raises another interesting question. If a person is totally asymptomatic (re: cancer) would it be throwing stones (at some potential lurking tiger) to take curcumin preventatively for other reasons, say, just because you read the UCLA Alzheimers study and fell into a high risk group??


  4. I completely agree with Dr. Aggarwal! I recently read that so many are “fighting” cancer…but that puts us at war with ourselves. May be best to not disturb the sleeping tiger. The toxic drug arsenals sometimes seem to backfire while more naturopathic remedies such as curcumin are virtually non-toxic yet effective. Which is not to say that when the tiger threatens to devour you, you must not call in bigger guns sometimes. But looking for “out of the box” alternatives is an excellent idea.

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