Date: May 08 2012
A British trial is investigating whether a curry ingredient can improve the treatment of patients with advanced bowel cancer.
Scientists will supplement standard chemotherapy with pills containing curcumin, a compound found in the yellow curry spice turmeric.
Laboratory tests have suggested that curcumin can boost the ability of chemotherapy drugs to kill bowel cancer cells.
The compound is known to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and also acts as an antioxidant. It has traditionally been used as an alternative remedy for a wide range of problems, including liver and digestive disorders, allergies and acne.
Some studies have indicated it may slow the spread of cancer, improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and protect healthy cells from the effects of radiotherapy.
However, hard evidence from properly conducted scientific trials is lacking.
The two-year trial, conducted by scientists from Cancer Research UK and the University of Leicester, aims to recruit about 40 patients with bowel cancer that has spread to the liver.
Patients with advanced bowel cancer are normally given a treatment called FOLFOX which combines three chemotherapy drugs.
But many - between 40 per cent and 60 per cent - do not respond to the therapy, and those who do may suffer side-effects such as tingling and nerve pain.
Chief investigator Professor William Steward, director of the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre at the University of Leicester, said: ''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.''
The study will take place at Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General Hospital. PA
This material is subject to copyright and any unauthorised use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.
[ Canberra Times | Text-only index]