Curcumin ‘could help treat bowel cancer’

January 2, 2013 No Comments

5A joint study by Cancer Research UK and the University of Leicester is hoping to determine whether or not pills containing the popular curry ingredient curcumin could make for an effective supplement to chemotherapy,
We already know that curcumin, which is a compound of turmeric, acts as an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties, which has led to its regular use in alternative remedies for liver disease, digestive disorders, acne and allergies. However, some studies have shown that it may also slow the spread of cancer, boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy and protect healthy cells from the effects of radiotherapy.

This new two-year scientific trial plans to recruit 40 patients whose bowel cancer has spread to the liver. Patients with advanced bowel cancer are usually given FOLFOX – a combination of three chemotherapy drugs – but up to 60 per cent do not respond to the therapy and those who do suffer side effects such as nerve pain.

The study, which is due to take place at Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General Hospital, will see 30 patients given curcumin tablets over a period of seven days before undergoing FOLFOX treatment, with the other participants only receiving FOLFOX.
Chief investigator Professor William Steward, Director of the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre at the University of Leicester commented: “Once bowel cancer has spread it is very difficult to treat, partly because the side effects of chemotherapy can limit how long patients can have treatment. The prospect that curcumin might increase the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapy is exciting because it could mean giving lower doses, so patients have fewer side effects and can keep having treatment for longer.”
He added: “This research is at a very early stage but investigating the potential of plant chemicals to treat cancer is an intriguing area that we hope could provide clues to developing new drugs in the future.”

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