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Carcinogenesis. 2000 Oct;21(10):1835-41.

Potent preventive action of curcumin on radiation-induced initiation of mammary tumorigenesis in rats.

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First Research Group, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 9-1 Anagawa-4-chome, Inage-ku, Chiba-shi 263-8555, Ryukyu Bio-Resource Development Co. Ltd, 606-2 Toyohara, Motobu-cho 905-0204, Okinawa, Japan.


This investigation evaluated the preventive effect of curcumin on radiation-induced tumor initiation in rat mammary glands. Fifty-four female rats were mated and then divided into two groups at day 11 of pregnancy. As the control group, 27 rats were fed a basal diet during the experimental period. As the experimental group, 27 rats were fed a diet containing 1% curcumin between day 11 of pregnancy and parturition (day 23 of pregnancy). All rats of both groups received whole body irradiation with 1.5 Gy gamma-rays from a (60)Co source at day 20 of pregnancy and were then implanted with a diethylstilbestrol pellet 1 month after weaning. A high incidence (70.3%) of mammary tumorigenesis was observed in the control group. The tumor incidence (18.5%) was significantly reduced in the rats fed curcumin during the initiation stage. The appearance of the first palpable tumor was delayed by 6 months in the curcumin-fed group and the average latent period until the appearance of mammary tumors was 2.5 months longer in the curcumin-fed group than in the control group. By histological examination, the proportion of adenocarcinoma (16.7%) in total tumors in the curcumin-fed rats was found to be decreased to half that (32.1%) in the control group. Compared with the control rats, the body weight of rats in the experimental group was decreased slightly by administration of the curcumin diet from day 11 of pregnancy, in spite of a similar intake of diet, but had recovered to the level of the control by the end of the experiment. At the time of irradiation, curcumin did not have any effect on organ weight or on the development and differentiation of mammary glands of pregnant rats. In addition, the serum concentrations of fatty acids, thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances and ovarian and pituitary hormones, except LH, remained at the control level. Also, no change in litter size and body weight of pups born from curcumin-fed rats indicated no toxicity of curcumin. These results suggest that curcumin does not have any side-effects and is an effective agent for chemoprevention acting at the radiation-induced initiation stage of mammary tumorigenesis.

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