Preclinical and Clinical Study Evidence of Turmeric Compounds Fighting Pancreatic Cancer

Turmeric's curcumin compounds have powerful cancer-fighting properties.

Clinical research suggests that the turmeric compound curcumin can help treat pancreatic cancer in some patients. (vi.20)

Curcumin appears to work as by itself, but when combined with certain natural or pharmaceutical substances (including chemotherapy), lab, animal, and human studies show that the therapeutic benefits increase. (vi.20)

Some of the most recent studies (including clinical trials) testing curcumin for treating pancreatic cancer include the following: (vi.20)

Treatment Study Results for the Turmeric Compound Curcumin with Pancreatic Cancer
Study Type Curcumin Dose and/or Chemotherapy or Other Substance

Human Clinical Trial (vi.182)

21 patients with gemcitabine-resistant advanced pancreatic cancer. (vi.182)

Clinical Trial

Gemcitabine or Gemcitabine/S-1 combined with (vi.182)

Curcumin - 8 g/day oral (vi.182)


Average survival time after start of curcumin supplements was 161 days, with 19% of the 21 patients survived for a year or more. This is far better than the 70 day average survival time after gemcitabine therapy failure. Only 2 patients had diarrhea, an adverse side effect thought to be caused by curcumin. However, it was not severe enough to stop treatment. Several participants had reduced symptoms (such as fatigue and pain). (vi.182)

Study Type Curcumin Dose and/or Chemotherapy or Other Substance

Phase II Human Clinical Trial (vi.22)

25 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, most of whom had been previously treated with one or more conventional therapies. (vi.22)

Clinical Trial

Curcumin - 8 g/day oral supplements (vi.22)


Of the 21 patients available for evaluation, 2 were clinically responsive to curcumin (approximately 10% response rate). Four patients were stabilized. (vi.22150)

One patient achieving stable disease and continuously improved over 18 months. Another had a short-lived, significant reduction in tumor size, but other lesions continued to grow. A third patient stayed in the study for about 8 months, with stable body weight and feelings of well-being(vi.22150)

Study Type Curcumin Dose and/or Chemotherapy or Other Substance

Controlled Clinical Trial (vi.375)

66 patients with pancreatic cancer; 22 in the curcumin treatment group and 44 in the control group. (vi.375)

(Note: this was a follow-up study to the Phase II study described above.) (vi.22375)

Clinical Trial

Curcumin - 8 g/day oral supplements in the treatment group; chemotherapy and no curcumin the control group (vi.375)


Patients treated with curcumin experienced greater weight loss and had shorter overall survival times than those in the control group. The researchers suggest that it must be considered that the patients in the control group were in overall better health than those referred to the curcumin arm of the trial. (vi.375)

Study Type Curcumin Dose and/or Chemotherapy or Other Substance

Clinical Trial (vi.376)

17 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, none of whom had been treated with chemotherapy. (vi.376)

Clinical Trial

Curcumin - 8 g/day oral supplements, in 2 even doses combined with (vi.376)

Gemcitabine - 1,000 mg/m (2) IV weekly for 3 weeks (vi.376)


5 patients stopped taking the curcumin because of stomach fullness or pain, and the curcumin dose was reduced by half in 2 other patients because of the same complaints. This level of toxicity is significantly different than what was seen in other clinical trials, where only mild diarrhea and nausea was reported. (vi.372376)

In the 11 patients available for evaluation, 1 showed a partial response for 7 months and the disease was stabilized in 4 others for 2-12 months. The remaining 6 showed tumor progression within 1-12 months, with median time to progression of 2.5 months. Median survival time of 5 months. (vi.20376)

The study results suggest that high doses of curcumin may not be tolerated when taken together with gemcitabine. However, other researchers speculate that toxicity may be due to the poorer condition of the patients in this study, given the lack of toxicity in other human trials. (vi.372)

Study Type Curcumin Dose and/or Chemotherapy or Other Substance

Animal Tumor Xenografts (vi.374)

Gemcitabine - 25 mg/kg injections twice weekly combined with (vi.374)

Curcumin - 1 g/kg of body weight orally per day (equivalent to 4.86 g/day for humans) (vi.374377)


The combination of curcumin and gemcitabine significantly reduced tumor size compared to either substance alone or to the untreated group. By themselves, gemcitabine showed a lower tumor volume but it was not statistically significant. Curcumin alone exerted much greater inhibition of MMP9, VEGF, COX-2, survivin, and Bcl-2, and greater inhibition of IAP1 (proteins that promote tumor growth). Gemcitabine blocked significantly more cyclin D1 and CAM-1(vi.374)

Interestingly, curcumin also decreased Ki-67 and angiogenesis more than gemcitabine. In samples taken from pancreatic cancer patients, Ki-67 and Bcl-2 were both associated with more invasive tumors. Curcumin also completely inhibited the inflammatory transcription factor NF-κB, which is linked to chemoresistance, by itself. (vi.374378)

Study Type Curcumin Dose and/or Chemotherapy or Other Substance

Animal Tumor Xenografts (vi.371)

For 6 weeks after tumors reached a certain size, mice were fed diets with either: (vi.371)

  • 18% corn oil with or without curcumin
  • 15% fish oil with 3% corn oil with or without curcumin

Both fish oil and curcumin reduced tumor sizes individually but in combination the effect was significantly greater: (vi.371)

  • Fish oil ( 25%)
  • Curcumin ( 43%)
  • Curcumin & fish oil ( 72%)
Gemcitabine and erlotinib. (vi.367)
Lab, animal, and human clinical studies. (vi.234133174278371)
Specifically, let-7a, b, c, d, miR-26a, miR-101, miR-146a, and miR-200b, c. (vi.361)
Triggered by Notch-1 transcription factors. (vi.34171)
For example: PTEN, SP1, SP2, SP3, STAT3, Notch-1, and NF-κB factors. (vi.23439174)
Such as COX-2, i-NOS, and 5-LOX. (vi.2)
Specifically, Cyclins B1 and D1. (vi.35126372)
Various kinases. (vi.126)
Such as VEGF and EGFR. (vi.126)
Specifically, p21 and p27. (vi.109111)
Such as Bak proteins. (vi.111)
Bcl-xL. (vi.111)
Specifically, Cyclins A and B1. (vi.109111)
I.e., CDK2, a kinase protein. (vi.109111)
Specifically, p21 and p27. (vi.109111)
Specifically, cyclin A. (vi.109)
I.e., CDK2, a kinase protein. (vi.109)
I.e., NF-κB. (vi.372)
Tumors grown by injecting animals such as mice and rats with human pancreatic cancer cell lines. (vi.371)
Development of new tumor-feeding blood vessels. (vi.89)

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