A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Randomized Phase IIa Study: Evaluating the Effect of Curcumin for Treatment of Cancer Anorexia–Cachexia Syndrome in Solid Cancer Patients

Document Type : Research Articles


Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Phramongkutklao Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand.


Objective: We aim to investigate the effect of curcumin on preventing cancer anorexia–cachexia syndrome (CACS) via through mechanism of inhibition on NF-kB signal pathway. Outcome measurement for primary end point was improvement of body tissue composition, and the secondary end points were body weight and body mass index, hand grip muscle strengthening, and safety. Methods: This is randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase ll a study, 33 patients with CACS in solid malignancy were enrolled and randomized in 1:1 to receive oral curcumin (at a dose of 800 mg twice daily) or placebo for 8 weeks. Results: All parameters of body compositions were not statistically significant different between two groups, which were consist body fat mass [-1.25(SEM 0.87) vs. +0.63(SEM 0.55); p=0.119], skeletal muscle mass [-0.35(SEM 0.60) vs.+0.33(SEM 0.42); p=0.408] and percent body fat [-0.47(SEM 0.95) vs. -0.29(SEM 0.82); p=0.893] including with basal metabolic rate [-13.47(SEM 21.94) vs. +15.30(13.76); p=0.336]. The average of weight loss was also not statistically significant different between two groups. [-1.4 kg(SEM 0.89) in curcumin vs-1.12 kg(SEM 0.73), p=0.810]. Notably, patient with curcumin had less reduction of hand-grip muscle strength on both hands [Rt. handed: -2.47 in curcumin vs. -5.36 in placebo; p=0.318] [Lt. handed: -1.98 vs. -5.43; p=0.317], and basal metabolic rate than placebo group. Most adverse events were grade 1 on both groups similarly. Conclusion: Curcumin was not shown to be superior to placebo with regard to increasing the body composition in cancer patients with CACS. However, curcumin might show some clinical benefits, including slow progression of hand-grip muscle strength loss, and basal metabolic rate. Further investigations should be explored. 


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