Should You Take Curcumin (Turmeric) During Chemotherapy?

Curcumin, the turmeric component that gives curry its kick, may also give something else a boost: the benefits of chemotherapy. A new study is currently underway that is testing the ability of curcumin to boost the effects of chemotherapy in people with colon cancer.

Curcumin has been turning up increasingly in labs and clinical studies as scientists uncover more and more of its medicinal abilities. One area in which curcumin has demonstrated cancer-fighting potential is in prostate cancer, where the spice has been shown to enhance hormone therapy, kill cancer cells, and inhibit cancer cell growth.

Individuals with advanced colon cancer are typically given a combination of three chemotherapy drugs, but 40% to 60% of patients do not respond, and among those who do, the side effects can be so severe, people cannot continue treatment. Experts propose curcumin may increase the sensitivity of colon cancer cells to chemotherapy so these patients can be treated at a lower dose, for a longer time, and with fewer side effects.

About 40 patients with bowel cancer will be enrolled in the study, 30 of whom will be given curcumin and the remainder will receive chemotherapy only. According to Professor William Steward, ECMC director at the University of Leicester and the study’s chief investigator, “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.” He also noted that the possibility of curcumin increasing cancer cell sensitivity to chemotherapy “could mean giving lower doses, so patients have fewer side effects and can keep having treatment for longer.”

“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.”

Reference

Medical Press. Trial launched into curry chemical’s cancer-fighting properties. 2012 May 7