Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the most common cancer of the immune system and one of the most common cancers in the United States.

Characterized by solid tumors that first develop in the lymph nodes, it is estimated that more than 80,000 Americans will receive a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2022.

In addition to its high prevalence, there are several subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that pose challenges for effective treatment and management.

For instance, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is a common subtype of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that has shown resistance to current treatments, potentially increasing the risk of recurrence in some people.

Thus, researchers continue to explore new and alternative treatment options that are effective and safe. One such natural product is curcumin, an active compound found in the spice turmeric.

This article explains curcumin and its potential benefits and downsides for treating or preventing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

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Curcumin is not proven to prevent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but it shows great potential as an alternative therapy in symptom management when taken in combination with conventional cancer treatments.

May suppress the growth of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

The anticancer potential of curcumin has been linked to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

A 2017 research report suggests that curcumin disrupts cellular pathways between the lymphoma cancer cells responsible for its growth and spread.

Similarly, more recent test tube research found that curcumin suppressed the growth of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma — the most common subtype of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — and even induced death of the cancer cells.

A reduction of cancer-related inflammation via curcumin supplements was associated with an improvement in the quality of life of some people, including those with various lymphomas.

May enhance the effectiveness of cancer drugs

Taking curcumin at the same time as the cancer drug imatinib appeared to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in test tube research.

The combined treatment, called rituximab, was more effective than the administration of the cancer drug alone.

This finding was consistent with other research that suggested curcumin could enhance the effects of chemotherapy and radiation cancer treatments.

Research also suggests that curcumin may reduce resistance to chemotherapy, or chemoresistance, which some people experience with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma subtypes.

However, it’s still unclear whether these effects would be the same in humans, so we need more research.

Potential future cancer treatment

The potential role of curcumin in cancer treatment continues to be recognized.

It may be capable of disrupting several cellular pathways related to the growth and spread of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Plus, there are no reported side effects in doses as high as 8 to 12 grams per day.

Given that most of the research on curcumin and cancer has been in test tubes and animals, more clinical trials involving humans are needed to determine the long-term effects of curcumin for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric (Curcuma longa).

It forms part of the curcuminoids — a group of compounds in turmeric with therapeutic properties — and gives the traditional Indian curry spice its characteristic yellow-orange color.

It is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has been used extensively throughout traditional plant medicine systems for centuries.

Test tube, animal, and human research has demonstrated that curcumin has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibiotic, and antioxidant properties.

Thus, it has been the interest of scientific research for decades for its potential roles in the prevention and treatment of several inflammatory human diseases, including cancers, arthritis, and diabetes.

Curcumin can be consumed via turmeric root, spice powder, or a dietary supplement.

Check out Healthline’s picks of the best turmeric supplements of 2022.

Though curcumin is considered safe, there are some potential downsides to consider.

Curcumin is unstable

Curcumin is a fat-soluble compound that is unstable in water-based mixtures with a low pH, such as stomach acid.

That means that when consumed alone, such as in supplement form, it is rapidly broken down and poorly absorbed. Therefore, it may not offer any benefits in this form.

Because it’s so unstable, curcumin has been labeled as an invalid metabolic panaceas (IMPS) candidate. IMPS refers to compounds that have been overstudied and whose benefits have been overpromised.

Some researchers even question whether test tube findings of curcumin’s benefits are false.

However, when combined into oil-based formulations or taken with other plant compounds like piperine from black pepper, the gut may be better able to absorb curcumin and perhaps benefit from its properties.

Learn more about the powerful combo of curcumin and piperine here.

The fact that curcumin needs to be combined with other compounds for human consumption makes it difficult to determine which health benefits observed in studies are related to curcumin alone.

Other downsides

Despite a few claims that curcumin may be toxic under some research conditions, doses of 8 to 12 grams per day were found safe in other research published between 2017 and 2019.

Furthermore, there may be several unsubstantiated beliefs about the use of curcumin for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers, based on test tube and animal research only.

Remember that clinical trials and long-term studies involving humans are warranted to determine safety, effective doses, and the best drug combinations for the combined treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the most common cancer of the immune system. It’s characterized by solid tumors that first develop in the lymph nodes.

The many subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma pose treatment challenges, so it’s important to explore alternative, safe, and effective treatments.

Curcumin is the yellow-orange pigment found in turmeric, and it’s shown to suppress the growth and spread of cancer cells while enhancing the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation in test tube research.

However, results of test tube research can’t necessarily be applied to humans. Plus, curcumin is unstable and may not offer any benefits unless combined with oil-based formulations or with other compounds like piperine.

More research involving humans related to curcumin and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is needed.

If you want to try taking curcumin supplements, they’re generally considered safe with few to no side effects. Just be sure to talk with a healthcare professional first, as you would any supplement.