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Health News Archive 375 - Inflammatory Bowel Disease
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Curcumin and Quercetin Reduce Polyp Number by 60% and Size by 50%

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is an autosomal-dominant disorder characterized by the development of hundreds of colorectal adenomas and eventual colorectal cancer. Regression of adenomas in this syndrome occurs with the administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors, but these compounds can have considerable side effects. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the Cleveland Clinic evaluated the efficacy of the combination of diet-derived nonprescription supplements curcumin and quercetin to regress adenomas in patients with FAP. The study was published in the June 2006 journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

METHODS: Five FAP patients with prior colectomy (4 with retained rectum and 1 with an ileal anal pouch) received curcumin 480 mg and Quercetin 20 mg orally 3 times a day. The number and size of polyps were assessed at baseline and after therapy. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to determine differences in the number and size of polyps. Treatment side effects and medication compliance also were evaluated.

RESULTS: At the end of the six-month trial, all five individuals had a decreased number and size from baseline of these abnormal growths in the colon. The growths decreased in number on average by about 60% while the size of the growths decreased an average by over 50%. No side effects were seen from the administration of these nutrients.

In addition to the five subjects, one other patient dropped out after three months, while another patient was found to not have complied with the supplementation program. It is noteworthy that the subject who did not comply experienced an increase in polyp numbers between the third and sixth months. After re-starting the supplements, the number of polyps decreased.

CONCLUSIONS: The combination of curcumin and quercetin appears to reduce the number and size of ileal and rectal adenomas in patients with FAP without appreciable toxicity. Randomized controlled trials are needed to validate these findings.

Although these substances were administered together, due to relative dose levels it is Dr Giardiello's belief that curcumin is the key agent. "The amount of quercetin we administered was similar to what many people consume daily; however, the amount of curcumin is many times what a person might ingest in a typical diet, since turmeric only contains on average 3 percent to 5 percent curcumin by weight," says Giardiello. Because of this, he cautions that simply consuming curry and onions may not have the same effect as was produced in this study.

"This study showed for the first time that curcumin treatment was efficacious in decreasing the number of polyps in patients with FAP, similarly to what has been seen with the use of synthetic NSAID agents, but with minimal side effects. Furthermore, we saw that adenomas found in the small intestine of our patients also responded to curcumin," says Cruz-Correa.

A large, randomized clinical trial investigating these two supplements’ effects on colon cancer is planned as a collaboration between John Hopkins and University of Puerto Rico Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Source: Cruz-Correa M, Shoskes DA, Sanchez P, Zhao R, Hylind LM, Wexner SD, Giardiello FM. Combination treatment with curcumin and quercetin of adenomas in familial adenomatous polyposis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Aug;4(8):1035-8. Epub 2006 Jun 6.

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