"" Ralph Moss—Cancer Consultant: 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Curcumin and Turmeric

Many people take turmeric or curcuminoids for their anti-inflammatory and/or anticancer properties. But how accurate are the labels?

Consumerlabs.com recently evaluated 10 popular turmeric and curcumin supplements. They found that two of them were underpowered. "Advance Physician Formulas" claimed that their supplement contain 245 mg of curcumin. But they only contain 18.9 mg! Similarly, Paradise Herbs and Essential Turmeric is said to contain 125 mg of curcuminoids per capsule. But it only contains 18.4 mg (or 14.7 percent of the stated amount).

The good news was that all the other brands delivered what they promised. This includes such well known brands as Solgar, Swanson, Jarrow and GNC. Life Extension Super Curcumin with Bioperene was also as advertised. It is a good bargain as well, 17 cents per 500 mg of curcuminoids. It contains BioPerine, which aids adsorption. (By way of disclosure, I am on the Life Extension Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

More on Anti-cancer Supplements

I apologize for the bad link in my recent blog on the various supplements. Here is the correct citation:

Ragupathi G, Hood C, Yeung KS, et al. Evaluation of Widely Consumed Botanicals as Immunological Adjuvants. Vaccine. 2008;26(37):4860-4865.

You should be able to retrieve the whole article by going to PubMed.

In future discussions I intend to clarify a few things about this study:

(a) it was an evaluation in mice, not human cancer patients;
(b) it involved the subcutaneous injection of the various substances, not oral administration; and
(c) the immune response in question was simply an antibody reaction, not a measure of natural killer cell activity, not to mention any effect on tumors.

As critics have pointed out, it can be faulted on all of these counts. Nonetheless, I am glad to see Memorial Sloan-Kettering (MSKCC) doing some actual studies instead of just talking, often in a negative way, about these substances. Perhaps studies of this sort are necessary to convince skeptics to undertake clinical studies (something I have been waiting for at that particular institution since 1974!)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Which Anti-Cancer Botanical Extracts Are Most Effective? Part One

Coriolus versicolor (Turkey tail) mushroom

One of the hardest questions to answer is which, out of the many supplements really benefits cancer patients? There are many self-interested statements of benefit, but an inadequate amount of objective research on what is effective and what is not.

I therefore want to call your attention to an interesting article from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). It compared the following seven botanical extracts and fractions:

(1) H-48 (a Chinese mixture of herbs)

(2) Coriolus vesicolor,  or its derivatives: purified polysaccharide-K (PSK) or purified polysaccharide-peptide (PSP)

(3) Maitake mushroom extract

(4) Echinacea

(5) Astragalus root

(6) The yellow spice turmeric; and

(7) β-glucan derived from yeast.

All of these are popular supplements used by cancer patients. The MSKCC authors looked at the ability of these substances to induce immune reactions in laboratory mice. Specifics on these products, and how they were tested, are given in the reference below. (The full paper is available for free, and readers should consult that text for details).

The bottom line of the study was this:

Consistently significant activity was seen with four of the preparations:

(1) Coriolus mushroom extracts (especially PSK);

(2) Alcohol extract of astragalus;

(3) yeast β-glucan; and (to a lesser extent)

(4) Maitake mushrooms.

Little or no adjuvant activity was demonstrated with H48, Echinacea extracts or a water-based extract of astragalus. The results with turmeric were mixed (but the New Chapter brand of turmeric was active.)

Coriolus versicolor (also called Trametes versicolor or Turkey tail mushroom) is available from a number of sources. I will have more to say about Astragalus in a future blog entry.

References and Resources:

Ragupathi G, Hood C, Yeung KS, et al. Evaluation of Widely Consumed Botanicals as Immunological Adjuvants. Vaccine. 2008;26(37):4860-4865.  (To see the article go to PubMed.)

A Phone Consultee Comments

 We recently received this comment on our phone consultation service:

"My telephone conversation with Ralph Moss was most helpful in helping with an important decision I am making regarding a recurrence of prostate cancer.  Dr. Moss was open and very generous.  We spent almost an hour discussing various avenues for treatment.  His knowledge is both profound and broad.  I was quite surprised to find him well informed on medical subjects that I imagined novel or forgotten in our present times.  I would recommend anyone facing an important decision wit his/her cancer to speak with Dr. Moss. It can only be helpful." -- C.P., 1/6/11

If you are interested in arranging a phone consultation on cancer treatment options, please email anne@cancerdecisions.com

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A new year, a new blog

Dear Readers,
My sincere wish for the new year is that it will be one filled with hope and healing for all those with cancer and their loved ones. In keeping with the spirit of fresh starts, I have given my blog a face-lift and a new domain name. All the previous content is here, and I plan to blog more often this year, so stay tuned. If you like something you read here, please share it and recommend it via facebook, Twitter, and email. I depend, in large part, on my readers to help me get the word out about the new articles and reports I write. Also, I would of course like your feedback about this new blog. Are there features you'd like to see here? Is it easy to find your way around? Finally, I welcome your comments and questions on cancer treatment, and I read each and every one. Please understand that I cannot answer them all, but I'll do my best.
My best,
Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.