Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer around. The National Cancer Institute estimates 45,220 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed and 38,460 people will die of the disease in 2013. While treatment is often considered futile in this highly lethal form of cancer, a new study indicates a turmeric extract could provide a reasonable chemotherapy alternative.
Research published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Anticancer Research found liposomal curcumin was able to inhibit pancreatic cancer cell proliferation in vitro and when administered to mice three times a week for four weeks, it was able to suppress tumor growth when compared with control groups.
Curcumin is the active component in turmeric, a spice that’s been treasured for millennia for its various health benefits. In recent decades, however, its anticancer properties have been studied with great results.
Liposomal curcumin is curcumin delivered by encapsulation in liposomes, or a prepared carrier with a lipd (fat) layer. Because curcumin is fat soluble and is resistant to water solubility, this liposomal vehicle increases its bioavailability, sending it through a barrier in the liver that would normally block it.
Pancreatic cancer is often caught late in its progression, only increasing the risk of mortality. The American Cancer Society estimates a 14% 5-year survival rate in Stage IA cancers, and only a 1% 5-year survival rate in Stage IV cancers. Even when a patient does live beyond this 5-year estimate, the rate of recurrence is high, due in part to conventional cancer treatments that destroy the immune system.
The study used a dosage of 20 mg/kg of the liposomal curcumin, an amount that would be the equivalent of 1,360 mg for a 150 lb. adult.
The study abstract concludes:
“These data clearly establish the efficacy of liposomal curcumin in reducing human pancreatic cancer growth in the examined model,” concluded the researchers. “The therapeutic curcumin-based effects, with no limiting side-effects, suggest that liposomal curcumin may be beneficial in patients with pancreatic cancer.”
Needless to say, the above research is far from the first to showcase turmeric and curcumins cancer-fighting abilities. One study published in the journal PLoS One found that curcumin has the power to inhibit the growth of esophageal cancer cell lines, while other research from UCLA actually found curcumin to decrease brain tumor size by a whopping 81%.