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Can curry help fight cancer? Researchers launch trial to find out [Print to PDF] [Print to RTF]

European researchers are investigating whether compounds found in curry can improve drug response among bowel cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

The team, from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom and Cancer Research UK, wants to find out if the effects of ...
Can curry help fight cancer? Researchers launch trial to find out
European researchers are investigating whether compounds found in curry can improve drug response among bowel cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

The team, from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom and Cancer Research UK, wants to find out if the effects of curcumin can improve patients' responses to chemotherapy.

They will investigate whether tablets containing curcumin, which is found in the spice turmeric, can be safely added to the standard treatment for bowel cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

This work will build on previous studies showing that curcumin can enhance the ability of chemotherapy to kill bowel cancer cells in the lab.

This type of research explores the most novel and exciting new anti-cancer therapies. It is a chance for scientists to get an insight into their effect on cancer patients, as well as note whether there are potential benefits or any worrying side effects.

Patients with advanced bowel cancer are usually given a treatment called FOLFOX, which combines three chemotherapy drugs. However, around 40% to 60% of patients don't respond to this treatment - and for those who do, the side effects often include severe tingling or nerve pain, which can limit the number of treatment cycles patients can have.

Principal Investigator, Professor William Steward from the University of Leicester, comments: '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.

'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.'

The study will analyse approximately 40 patients with bowel cancer that has spread to the liver. Three quarters of the patients will be given curcumin tablets for seven days, before they are treated with FOLFOX treatment. The remainder of the group will act as a control so the scientists can compare the results, and will just receive the FOLFOX treatment.

One of the participants, Colin Carroll, a 62-year-old compliance consultant from near Loughborough in the United Kingdom, agreed to take part in the trial after he was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer in January.
'The diagnosis came as a big shock because I'd had no symptoms apart from some occasional cramps. I'd had a few tests which had come back clear and I'd just been booked for a computed tomography (CT) scan when I was rushed to hospital with a suspected intestinal blockage. To have something creep up on you like that when you have absolutely no control over it really makes you want to fight back. That's why I had no difficulty in agreeing to take part in the trial.'

Symptoms of bowel cancer include blood appearing in stool samples and an unexplained change in bowel habits, such as prolonged diarrhoea or constipation. Unexplained weight loss is also a symptom.
Source: University of Leicester

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Record Number: 34587 / Last updated on: 2012-05-07
Category: Miscellaneous
Provider: EC