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Curcumin Benefits for Smokers

  • , by SANUSq Research team
Curcumin benefits

Cigarette smoke contains thousands of dangerous chemicals, with at least 70 of them known to cause cancer.

According to the USA CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), smoking affects every organ of the body and can increase your risk of all kinds of chronic diseases: [1]

  • Increases your risk of developing lung cancer
  • Causes lung disease such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Triggers asthma attacks and exacerbates asthma symptoms
  • Increases your risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke
  • Increases your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration
  • Causes rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lowers your immune system’s ability to fight off infections
  • Increases the risk of miscarriage or early delivery
  • Increases the risk of asthma, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome in new-born babies

Most people are very aware of these risks. What’s more, most people know that quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of developing serious health problems and can improve their quality of life.

However, kicking the butt is not so easy. Intense withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and irritability can make the process of quitting extremely difficult and increase the chances of relapse. Blame it on nicotine, one of the main components in cigarette smoke. Nicotine is a very fast-acting drug that reaches the brain within a few seconds and stimulates the reward pathways in the brain. This is what makes smoking so addictive.  

Can Curcumin reduce the damage caused by smoking?

Curcumin is the main bioactive compound present in turmeric (or Curcuma longa), an Indian spice well-known for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

Turmeric’s typical golden yellow color is due to the presence of curcumin. Turmeric has been used in Indian culture for centuries, to add flavour, taste, and colour to food. It is also used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat and manage a range of health conditions.  

Curcumin benefits for overall health include:

  • Treating cold and fever
  • Easing digestive problems and ulcers
  • Supporting liver functions and treating disorders
  • Treating skin ailments such as psoriasis
  • Speeding the healing of internal and external wounds
  • Aiding in the removal of toxins from the body
  • Treating inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis

The health benefits of turmeric are believed to be due to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties of curcumin. These properties are also backed by modern scientific studies that suggest curcumin can potentially be useful in a wide range of chronic inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer.

Curcumin benefits for smokers

Quitting smoking is undoubtedly the best solution to protect yourself from all the damage tobacco smoke can cause. But considering how challenging it is to kick the butt, you must give your body all the antioxidant support that it needs.

Chemical compounds released into the body as a result of smoking can, and do, create free radicals that damage your cells and their fragile components such as lipids, mitochondria, DNA, proteins, and enzymes. Your body has an internal antioxidant defense mechanism in place that fights oxidative damage to some extent.

However, continuous damage by free radicals can soon overwhelm this defense mechanism, resulting in chronic inflammation and the development of many chronic diseases.  At this stage in the process, your body needs extra antioxidants to keep free radicals and their toxic by-products at bay, stopping them from creating mayhem in the body.

This is where turmeric curcumin supplements come into the equation. Curcumin’s strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities offer positive effects and protection to smokers.

1. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection

Curcumin antioxidant supplements can protect smoker’s lungs from oxidative damage caused by toxic chemical compounds present in cigarette smoke. 

Antioxidant: Free radicals (caused by several external and internal factors including smoking) cause oxidative damage to lipids, DNA, and proteins.

Curcumin is an antioxidant (it fights free radicals) and reduces oxidative stress that can lead to all kinds of chronic inflammatory diseases in the body. 

What does turmeric curcumin do for you?

  • Destroys different types of free radicals
  • Increases the activity of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, GSH and catalase [2] [3]
  • Increases levels of glutathione, the master antioxidant that not only protects cells from oxidative damage but helps remove toxins from the body. (Glutathione plays a very important role in the detoxification phases)

Anti-inflammatory: Cigarette smoke contains free radicals and other compounds that can activate the NF-kappaB pathway, one of the most potent pathways involved in causing inflammation. Activation of NF-?B has been linked to many chronic diseases and the early development of many cancers. 

Curcumin inhibits the activity of proteins, enzymes, transcription factors, and signaling molecules called cytokines that promote inflammation.

  • Reduces the activity of inflammatory enzymes cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), lipoxygenase (LOX)
  • Interrupts various stage in the NF-kappaB pathway [4]

This 2017 study reports “There is compelling evidence that curcumin can block cell proliferation, invasion, and angiogenesis as well as reduce the prolonged survival of cancer cells. Curcumin mediates anti-inflammatory effect through downregulation of inflammatory cytokines, transcription factors, protein kinases, and enzymes that promote inflammation and development of chronic diseases.” [5]

2. Curcumin for COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of progressive inflammatory lung diseases. COPD causes blockage in lung airways and causes symptoms such as breathing difficulty, ongoing cough, green sputum, wheezing, and tightness in the chest.

COPD causes respiratory symptoms, a gradual decline in lung function, and even death if inflammatory responses are not managed. COPD can further increase one’s risk of developing pneumonia, lung cancer, and heart disease.

There are two main types of COPD:

  • Chronic bronchitis: causes the inflammation and narrowing of the airways and bronchial tubes that carry air to and from your lungs. Bronchitis causes build-up of mucus. 
  • Emphysema: This condition damages and enlarges small air sacs (alveoli) in your lungs. These air sacs are involved in the exchange of gases. In lungs affected by emphysema, large holes develop and elasticity of the lung tissue becomes impaired. Weakened and damaged air sacs make it difficult to breathe.

    Smoking is the leading cause of COPD and also triggers COPD flare-ups. Growing evidence suggests that inflammation associated with COPD is not only limited to lungs but also spills into circulation, affecting other organs including the blood vessels. Research shows that active smokers as well as ex-smokers with COPD are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

    Unfortunately, COPD doesn’t respond too well to anti-inflammatory medications such as topical corticosteroids. It is observed that patients with COPD tend to develop resistance to steroids that are often recommended to manage COPD. Steroids influence the activity of a specific enzyme, known as histone deacetylase (HDAC) 2, to slow down inflammation.  However, oxidative stress reduces the activity and expression of (HDAC) 2 in patients with COPD and severe asthma.

    Quitting smoking is obviously the best thing to do if you want to protect your lungs, prevent COPD, and improve its symptoms. However, smoking is highly addictive and challenging to quit. It is important to find effective approaches that can help bring down inflammation and improve symptoms in patients with COPD.
    This is where curcumin can help, as it:

    • Reduces oxidative stress which leads to inflammation
    • Reduces inflammation in the airways by controlling the production and activity of inflammatory molecules 
    • Reverses steroid resistance, commonly observed in patients with COPD and asthma. Curcumin achieves this by improving the activity and expression of enzymes, which are affected by oxidative damage in patients with COPD. [6]

    3. Curcumin for smokers: Protects lungs

    Benzo(a)pyrene belongs to a group of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and is known to play a big role in the development of cancer. Cigarette smoking is a prominent cause of lung cancer and benzo(a)pyrene is a major cancer-producing substance present in cigarette smoke. In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has listed BAP as a Group 1 carcinogen.

    It may cause lung cancer by activation of nuclear factor-kappaB, a protein that plays a central role in inflammatory pathways and cancer development. The by-products produced during the metabolism of BAP cause dangerous free radicals that cause oxidative stress in the cells. Also, BAP metabolites bind to DNA and cause DNA damage which can result in genetic mutations. Both these mechanisms triggered during BAP exposure play a big role in the initiation and progression of lung cancer.

    Studies show that curcumin can:

    • Protect the cells from oxidative damage that occurs during BAP metabolism. [7]
    • Reduces DNA damage induced by benzo[a]pyrene [8]
    • Suppresses the activation of nuclear factor-kappaB and also the associated genes in lung cancer cells. This prevents the progression of lung cancer. [9]

    4. Bladder cancer

    People who smoke cigarettes are at an increased risk of developing bladder cancer. [10] Toxins from cigarette smoke enter the bloodstream and cause damage to various organs. These toxic, cancer-producing substances leave the body through urine, exposing the urinary bladder to these carcinogens. 

    Long-term exposure to the compounds in cigarette smoke is known to activate inflammatory pathways and play a central role in the initiation and spread of cancer. The referenced study found that curcumin suppresses these inflammatory pathways in smoke-exposed cells in the urinary bladder. [11]

    Other Health Benefits of Curcumin

    Vast amounts of research have been conducted on curcumin health benefits. It has been found that curcumin can help to treat many chronic conditions with roots in oxidative damage and inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a major factor in the development of cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and several cancers.

    Studies show that curcumin:

    1. Lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases
    2. Improves endothelial functions in postmenopausal women
    3. Lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients
    4. Prevents the development of diabetes in pre-diabetics (individuals with blood sugar levels that are high, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic). Pre-diabetics are at an increased risk of developing full-blown diabetes. They are also at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke due to high levels of sugar in the blood causing damage to blood vessels.
    5. Protects against damage from radiation exposure.
    6. Improves pain, joint mobility, and quality of life in people with osteoarthritis.
    7. Proves to be effective in managing pain and joint swelling in rheumatoid arthritis patients
    8. Inhibits the formation and aggregation of amyloid-ß plaque which destroys brain cells and causes symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

    Curcumin absorption issues

    While curcumin offers tremendous health benefits and it is safe even at high doses, it is limited by poor bioavailability. It is not easily absorbed by the body. Studies show that piperine (an active ingredient in black pepper) increases the bioavailability of curcumin by a whopping 2000%. That’s why some curcumin supplements contain piperine. However, piperine is known to cause gastrointestinal irritation and pain in some people. Also, long-term use of piperine can be toxic as it might interfere with the clearance of toxins and drugs from the body, increasing the risk of liver damage. 

    High-quality liposomal curcumin supplements enhance curcumin absorption without any side effects. Liposomal technology is fast emerging as an effective drug and nutrient delivery system that makes nutrients more available to the cells, thus improving their bioavailability and absorption.

    What are liposomes?

    • Liposomes are small spheres made of phospholipids that encapsulate nutrients like curcumin, CoQ10, vitamin B12, vitamin C and vitamin D.
    • The enclosed nutrients in the liposomal supplements are not broken down by the harsh elements of the gastrointestinal tract.
    • Liposomal technology ensures the nutrients are delivered directly to the cells, which increases the bioavailability and absorption.

    Certain interventions can mitigate some of the risks associated with cigarette smoke and can help to keep your body in overall good health, regardless of whether you smoke or not.

    If you are an active smoker, liposomal curcumin supplements can offer the much-needed antioxidant support your body needs. However, no amount of external intervention, whether it's a healthy diet, taking nutritional supplements, or physical activity, can protect you from the system-wide damage that smoking causes.


    1. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
    2. Panahi et al. Mitigation of systemic oxidative stress by curcuminoids in osteoarthritis: Results of a randomized controlled trial. J. Diet. Suppl. 2016.
    3. Biswas et al. Curcumin protects DNA damage in a chronically arsenic-exposed population of West Bengal. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2010
    4. Panahi et al. Molecular mechanisms of curcumins suppressing effects on tumorigenesis, angiogenesis and metastasis, focusing on NF-?B pathway. Cytokine & Growth Factor Reviews. 2016.
    5. Shehzad A et al. Multifunctional Curcumin Mediate Multitherapeutic Effects. J Food Sci. 2017
    6. Meja et al. Curcumin restores corticosteroid function in monocytes exposed to oxidants by maintaining HDAC2. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2008
    7. Zhu et al. Curcumin and Vitamin E Protect against Adverse Effects of Benzo[a]pyrene in Lung Epithelial Cells. PloS One. 2014
    8. Sehgal et al. Combined effects of curcumin and piperine in ameliorating benzo(a)pyrene induced DNA damage. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2011
    9. Shi Q et al. Inflammation and the chemical carcinogen benzo[a]pyrene: Partners in crime. Mutat Res. 2017
    10. Osch et al. Quantified relations between exposure to tobacco smoking and bladder cancer risk: a meta-analysis of 89 observational studies. International Journal of Epidemiology. 2016.
    11. Liang et al. Curcumin reversed chronic tobacco smoke exposure induced urocystic EMT and acquisition of cancer stem cells properties via Wnt/ß-catenin. Cell Death Dis. 2017


    Information on our websites, in our blogs and our emails are provided for informational purposes only, and have not been evaluated by the EMA, EFSA or FDA. It is not meant to substitute medical advice provided by your healthcare professional and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Our products are intended for adults, 18 years of age and older. While the vitamins and supplements mentioned here have been shown to have various health benefits, it is important to remember that supplements and dietary changes should be considered as part of an overall health plan and not as a substitute for professional medical treatment. Only a qualified healthcare practitioner can provide personalized advice and treatment plans based on your individual health needs and medical history, and you should seek advice from your healthcare professional before taking product(s) if you are pregnant or nursing.

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