Curcumin is the active ingredient in the traditional herbal remedy and dietary spice known as turmeric.  It is the principal curcuminoid of turmeric – a member of the ginger family.  It is a potent anti-inflammatory and cancer preventative molecule, and similar to fish oil it seems to be an effective metabolic syndrome ‘band-aid’.

Curcumin is a ‘free radical scavenger’ and exhibits both pro- and anti-oxidant activity.  Curcumin is remarkably non-toxic and exhibits limited bioavailability, or absorption qualities via oral ingestion.  However black pepper greatly enhances absorption.

Curcumin has additional anti-cancer effects that are independent of its anti-inflammatory effects and thus is a heavily researched molecule for both cancer prevention and treatment.

Other potential benefits of curcumin are in alleviating cognitive decline associated with aging; improving heart health by both electrical means and by reducing lipid and plaque levels in arteries; and by both reducing the risk of diabetes and being a good treatment for the side-effects associated with diabetes.

Currently, curcumin exhibits great promise as a therapeutic agent, and is currently in human clinical trials for a variety of conditions, including:

  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Colon cancer
  • Psoriasis
  • Alzheimer’s disease


The goals of this recent study, performed by Chinese researchers in Beijing, were to investigate the effects of curcumin on ‘cell cycle arrest’ and programmed cellular death (apoptosis) of pancreatic cancer cells.  Previous population investigations have suggested that the application of curcumin may be associated with decreased incidence and improved prognosis in certain types of cancer.


The conclusive findings of this research study has revealed that curcumin significantly decreased cell growth (proliferation) and, in addition, induced programmed cellular death (apoptosis).  These results were determined by using specific key molecular indicators, ultimately leading to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis of the pancreatic cancer cells.

These recent findings are encouraging, and offer support for further investigation of the role of curcumin in the prevention and treatment of pancreatic cancer.