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Carcinogenesis. 1999 Jun;20(6):1011-8.

Chemoprevention by curcumin during the promotion stage of tumorigenesis of mammary gland in rats irradiated with gamma-rays.

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First Research Group, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 9-1 Anagawa-4-chome, Inage-ku, Chiba-shi 263-8555, Japan.


We have evaluated the chemopreventive effects of curcumin on diethylstilbestrol (DES)-induced tumor promotion of rat mammary glands initiated with radiation. Sixty-four pregnant rats received whole body irradiation with 2.6 Gy gamma-rays from a 60Co source at day 20 of pregnancy and were divided into two groups after weaning. In the control group of 39 rats fed a basal diet and then implanted with a DES pellet for 1 year, 33 (84.6%) developed mammary tumors. Twenty-five rats were fed diet containing 1% curcumin immediately after weaning and received a DES pellet, as for the control. The administration of dietary curcumin significantly reduced the incidence (28.0%) of mammary tumors. Multiplicity and Iball's index of mammary tumors were also decreased by curcumin. Rats fed the curcumin diet showed a reduced incidence of the development of both mammary adenocarcinoma and ER(+)PgR(+) tumors in comparison with the control group. On long-term treatment with curcumin, body weight and ovarian weight were reduced, but liver weight was increased. Compared with the control rats, the curcumin-fed rats showed a significant reduction in serum prolactin, whereas estradiol-17beta and progesterone concentrations were not significantly different between the two groups. Curcumin did not have any effect on the concentration of free cholesterol, cholesterol ester and triglyceride. Feeding of the curcumin diet caused a significant increase in the concentrations of tetrahydrocurcumin, arachidonic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid and a significant decrease in thiobarbituric acid-reactive substance concentration in serum. Whole mounts of the mammary glands showed that curcumin yielded morphologically indistinguishable proliferation and differentiation from the glands of the control rats. These findings suggest that curcumin has a potent preventive activity during the DES-dependent promotion stage of radiation-induced mammary tumorigenesis.

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