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Curcumin active in pancreatic cancer patients

By Shane Starling , 22-Aug-2008
Last updated on 27-Feb-2009 at 16:00 GMT2009-02-27T16:00:41Z

An eight-week clinical trial has found consumption of curcumin can benefit advanced pancreatic cancer sufferers.

Twenty five participants were administered supplements incorporating a patented curcumin ingredient manufactured by New Jersey-based herbals specialist, Sabinsa, which was found to advantage pancreatic cancer sufferers despite the supplements demonstrating “poor oral bioavailability”.

The study, published in the American Association for Cancer Research's Clinical Cancer Research, was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas – MD Anderson Cancer Center.

They found, despite the limited absorption potential, the ingredient, Curcumin C3 Complex, had anti-cancer potential albeit in a small number of participants.

“A key question related to treatment with curcumin is its poor bioavailability after being taken orally. Our results also indicated that only low levels of curcumin are detectable in plasma (steady-state level at day 3 is f22-41 ng/mL),” the researchers wrote.

“Nevertheless, some of the patients had biological activity of curcumin as evidenced by the anti-tumor effects in two patients and by effects on cytokine levels and on NF-nB, COX-2, and pSTAT.”

The researchers posited that the reason curcumin could have an effect in the body despite its bioavailability “issues” may be due to the fact it largely consists in conjugated forms such as glucoronide in human (and rodent) plasma and is therefore cloaked in the blood supply.

Because of this factor, the researchers noted, “further investigations are needed to elucidate the relationship between the form of curcumin, its relative pharmacologic activity, and circulating versus tumor tissue levels.”

They concluded: “Our current study shows that oral curcumin is tolerated without toxicity at doses of 8 g/d for up to 18 months. Although this molecule is poorly absorbed, with low nanogram levels of circulating curcumin detected at steady-state, biological activity is evident. Preclinical data suggest that curcumin has potent activity against pancreatic cancer, but higher levels of exposure need to be achieved.”

Curcumin is a natural pigment that gives the spice turmeric its yellow colour. Recent studies have investigated its potential to lower cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and diabetes as well as cancer-fighting properties.

Sabinsa's Curcumin C3 Complex is an extract of turmeric roots standardized for 95 percent of phenolic compounds called curcuminoids.

One of the researchers, Vladimir Badmaev, is the vice president of scientific and medical affairs at Sabinsa .


Clinical Cancer Research

2008:14(14), July 15, 2008

Phase II Trial of Curcumin in Patients with Advanced Pancreatic Cancer”

Authors: Navneet Dhillon, Bharat B Aggarwal, Robert A Newman, Robert A.Wolff, Ajaikumar B Kunnumakkara, James L Abbruzzese, Chaan S Ng, Vladimir Badmaev, Razelle Kurzrock

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