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Quest Vitamins LTD,
8 Venture Way,
Aston Science Park,
B7 4AP.

Tel: 0121 359 0056
Fax: 0121 359 0313
Registered in England No. 2530437

Turmeric may be an effective treatment for patients with pancreatic cancer

The spice turmeric, which gives curry its distinctive yellow colour, has been used for 4,000 years to treat a variety of ailments. The medicinally active ingredient is curcumin, the yellow pigment. Research has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-proliferative properties of curcumin; preliminary human evidence suggests possible efficacy in the treatment of indigestion and elevated levels of fat in the blood.

Curcumin is metabolised rapidly, as a result its bioavailability is very poor. Studies however have shown that the addition of piperine, a constituent of black pepper, to tumeric preparations can increase bioavailability by up to 2000%.

Studies in animals and human cell lines have indicated that curcumin has the ability to down regulate cell proliferation and stimulate apoptosis (cell death) in tumours. A new study in cancer patients has strengthened that tumeric may be effective as part of the management of pancreatic cancer..

The study

8g of curcumin was administered daily to patients with advanced pancreatic cancer until the point of disease progression (assessed every two months). 21 patients were evaluated and bioavailability of curcumin was found to be poor. Nevertheless one patient receiving curcumin maintained a stable disease state for 18 months, while another patient briefly experienced significant tumour regression (73%). Curcumin was found to down regulate NF-κB; active NF-κB turns on the expression of genes that keep the cell proliferating and protect the cell from conditions that would otherwise cause it to die. Levels of the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2, used to synthesise pro-inflammatory immune mediators, also reduced among patients with higher than normal levels before treatment with curcumin. 

This preliminary study is exciting and justifies further research in this area.

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