Currys ability to fight bowel cancer will be put to the test in rigorous trial
Curry's ability to fight bowel cancer will be put to the test in rigorous trial

A UK 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

he compound is known to have powerful antiinflammatory 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 twoyear 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 and 60 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 ECMC 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

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 take place at Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General Hospital

Threequarters of the patients will be given curcumin tablets for seven days before undergoing FOLFOX treatment The remainder will only be treated with FOLFOX

Colin Carroll a 62yearold compliance consultant who lives near Loughborough is one of the first patients to join the trial He agreed to take part after being diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer in January

He said The diagnosis came as a big shock because Id had no symptoms apart from some occasional cramps
Id had a few tests which had come back clear and Id just been booked for a CT computed tomography scan when I was rushed to hospital with a suspected intestinal blockage

Scans revealed bowel cancer which had spread to the liver
Three days after being admitted to Leicester Royal Infirmary Mr Carroll underwent emergency surgery to bypass the blockage

He added Its been like a whirlwind To have something creep up on you like that when you have absolutely no control over it really makes you want to fight back
Thats why I had no difficulty in agreeing to take part in the trial

Ive met some amazing people since January and my treatment on the NHS has been fantastic The way I see it is that Im being given the best possible chance so in that sense I feel very fortunate
Dr Joanna Reynolds Cancer Research UKs director of centres said The Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres network supports research into some of the most novel and exciting new anticancer therapies often providing the first insights into their effect on cancer patients

By doing a clinical trial like this we will find out more about the potential benefits of taking large amounts of curcumin as well as any possible side effects this could have for cancer patients

Date : 08 May, 2012
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