Curcumin shows some activity in pancreatic cancer

Researchers from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Sabinsa Corporation in Piscataway, New Jersey report on early research into the activity of curcumin (diferuloylmethane) in patients with pancreatic cancer.

First, the details.

  • 25 patients received 8 grams of curcumin by mouth daily until disease progression, with restaging every 2 months.
  • Blood levels for interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, IL-10, and IL-1 receptor antagonists, and activity of NF-{kappa}B and cyclooxygenase-2 were monitored.
    • Interleukins help the immune system fight cancer.
    • Incorrect regulation of NF-{kappa}B is linked to cancer and improper immune response.
    • The enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 makes prostaglandins that cause inflammation, pain, and fever.

And, the results.

  • Low blood levels of curcumin were detected as glucuronide and sulfate conjugate forms.
  • 2 patients showed clinical biological activity.
    • One had stable disease for longer than 18 months.
    • Another had brief tumor regression (73%) accompanied by significant increases in interleukins.
  • No toxicity was observed.
  • Curcumin reduced the activity of NF-{kappa}B and cyclooxygenase-2.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Oral curcumin is well tolerated and, despite its limited absorption, has biological activity in some patients with pancreatic cancer.”

Sabinsa Corporation manufactures curcumin and other phytonutrients, as well as Ayurvedic herbal extracts. This appears to be an initial attempt to get data that will permit FDA-approved statements for their product.

In case you forgot, curcumin gives the spice turmeric (Curcuma longa) its yellow color.

8/27/08 17:11 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.