Cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals. While most of these chemicals are dangerous for your health, at least 70 of them are 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: 
- Puts you at a higher risk of developing lung cancer
- Causes lung disease such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Triggers asthma attack or makes its symptoms worse
- 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 your new-born
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. The typical golden yellow color of turmeric is due to the presence of curcumin. People in India have been using turmeric for centuries. They add it to their food to add flavour, taste and color. It is also used as an Ayurvedic medicine to treat and manage a range of health conditions.
- Cold and fever
- Digestive problems and ulcers
- Liver functions and disorders
- Skin ailments such as psoriasis
- Speedy healing of internal and external wounds
- Removal of toxins from the body
- Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
Curcumin benefits for smokers
There is no doubt that quitting smoking is the best solution to protect yourself from all the damage tobacco smoke can cause. But considering how challenging is to kick the butt, you must give your body all the anti-oxidant support that it needs.
Chemical compounds released in to the body as a result of smoking can, and do create free radicals that damage your cells and their fragile components like lipids, mitochondria, DNA, proteins and enzymes. Your body has an internal antioxidant defense mechanism in place that fights this oxidative damage to some certain extent. However, continuous damage by free radicals can soon overwhelm this defense mechanism resulting in chronic inflammation and initiation of many chronic diseases. At this stage, your body needs additional antioxidant supply to keep a check on free radicals and their toxic by-products that are busy creating mayhem in the body.
This is where curcumin with its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects can offer protection to smokers.
1. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection
Curcumin can protect lungs from the oxidative damage caused by toxic chemical compounds present in cigarette smoke.
Antioxidant: Free radicals, caused by a number of external and internal factors including smoking, cause oxidative damage to lipids, DNA and proteins.
Curcumin acts as an antioxidant and helps reduce oxidative stress that can give rise of all kinds of chronic inflammatory diseases in the body.
- Destroys different types of free radicals
- Increases activities of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, GSH and catalase  
- 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).
Curcumin inhibits the activity of proteins, enzymes, transcription factors and signalling molecules called cytokines that promote inflammation.
- Reduces the activity of inflammatory enzymes cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), lipoxygenase (LOX)
- Interrupts various stage in NF-kappaB pathway 
2. Curcumin for COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD is a group of progressive inflammatory lung diseases. COPD causes blockage in the airways of lungs and makes it difficult to breathe, with symptom like ongoing cough, green sputum, wheezing and tightness in the chest.
COPD causes respiratory symptoms, 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.
Mainly, there are two types of COPD:
- Chronic bronchitis: It is the inflammation and narrowing of the airways, 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.
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 basically influences 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.
While quitting smoking is obviously the best thing to do if you want to protect your lungs, prevent COPD and improve its symptoms, smoking is highly addictive and challenging to quit. So, in this respect what is also called for are better, more 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 could lead 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. 
Benzo(a)pyrene belongs to a group of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Cigarette smoking is a prominent cause of lung cancer and benzo(a)pyrene is one of major cancer-producing substances present in the cigarette smoke. Exposure to benzo[a]pyrene is known to play a big role in the development of cancer. 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, protein that plays a central role in inflammatory pathways and in cancer development. The by-products produced during the metabolism of BAP causes dangerous free radicals that cause oxidative stress in the cells. In addition, 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. 
- Reduces DNA damage induced benzo[a]pyrene 
- Suppresses the activation of nuclear factor-kappaB and also the associated genes in lung cancer cells. This prevents progression of lung cancer. 
People who smoke cigarettes are at an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.  The toxins from cigarette smoke enters the bloodstream and cause damage to various organs. These toxic, cancer producing substances leave the body through urine. This exposes the urinary bladder to these carcinogens.
Long term exposure to the compounds in smoke are known to activate inflammatory pathways do play a central role in the initiation and spread of cancer. This study found that curcumin supresses these inflammatory pathways in the smoke exposed cells in the urinary bladder. 
Other Health Benefits of Curcumin
There has been a lot of research on curcumin health benefits. It has been found that curcumin can help in 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:
- Lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Improves endothelial functions in postmenopausal women
- Lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients
- Prevents the development of diabetes in pre-diabetics: individuals with high blood sugar levels but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Pre-diabetics are at an increased risk of developing full blown diabetes. They are also at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke as high levels of sugar in the blood keep damaging their blood vessels.
- Protects against damage from radiation exposure
- Improves pain, joint mobility and quality of life in people with osteoarthritis.
- Proves to be effective in managing pain and joint swelling in rheumatoid arthritis
- Inhibits the formation and aggregation of amyloid-β plaque which destroys brain cells and causes symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
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. In addition, 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 also 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 and vitamin C. Liposomes are also used to carry drugs.
- 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.
- Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
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- 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.
- Liang et al. Curcumin reversed chronic tobacco smoke exposure induced urocystic EMT and acquisition of cancer stem cells properties via Wnt/β-catenin. Cell Death Dis. 2017