In a phase II study involving 21 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, patients were given 8 gm/day of curcumin (turmeric). The Curcumin showed significant benefit in 2/21 patients with one patient maintaining a stable disease state for more than 18 months, and another patient had a brief, but marked, significant regression of the tumor (73%), along with significant increases in (from 4 to 35-fold increases) serum cytokine (immune function) levels. Many other blood test markers also improved.
Currently, there are currently only 2 FDA approved drugs for the treatment of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, and both of those drugs (gemcitabine and erlotinib) are only effective in less than 10% of patients, making the Curcumin's effectiveness similar to the chemo agents. A critical point to know about curcumin is that it is very poorly absorbed (blood levels were very low, peaking at 22 to 41 ng/mL). The good news is that the absorption of Curcumin can be markedly increased by taking black pepper with it (the piperine in pepper enhances the absorption). Alternatively, curcumin products are available that have been shown to be better absorbed. For example, Curcugel (available online at many shops) was found in 1 study to be absorbed 8 times as well as plain curcumin. I would take 4-8 capsules of the Curcugel or 2 teaspoons of curcumin daily with ~ 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper added (for recipe ideas on how to take the curcumin, see Ideas For Dissolving Curcumin).
Although the curcumin may help, if I had pancreatic cancer I would use the protocol developed by Dr. Nick Gonzalez, and fly to New York to see him for an appointment. Click here to visit his website.
"Phase II Trial of Curcumin in Patients with Advanced Pancreatic Cancer," Dhillon N, Aggarwal BB, et al, Clin Cancer Res, 2008; 14(14): 4491-4499