A trial looking at curcumin to treat Barrett's oesophagus

Cancer type:

Oesophageal cancer





This trial looked at a spice called curcumin to see if it could treat Barrett’s oesophagus. Barrett’s oesophagus is a condition where cells lining the food pipe (oesophagus) change and become abnormal. People with Barrett’s oesophagus are at a greater risk of developing cancer of the oesophagus.

Researchers at the University of Swansea identified a molecule called NF-kappaB that plays a part in the development of oesophageal cancer in people with Barrett’s oesophagus. They then carried out tests using curcumin, an ingredient of the Indian spice turmeric. They found that curcumin slowed down the activity of the NF-kappaB molecule. These tests took place in the laboratory. They wanted to find out if curcumin did the same in people with Barrett’s oesophagus.

Some of the people in this pilot study had curcumin tablets for a week and some didn’t. Both groups then had an endoscopy. The researchers compared the results of the test to see if curcumin reduced the activity of the NF-kappaB molecule. If this was found to work, a future study may aim to find out if curcumin slows down or reverses the development of Barrett’s oesophagus into oesophageal cancer.

Summary of results

The trial team found that curcumin was safe and may have some beneficial effect. 

Of the 36 people this trial recruited, the researchers were able to analyse the results of 33. Of these 33

  • 16 had curcumin daily for 7 days before their endoscopy
  • 17 didn’t

The researchers took a small piece of tissue (biopsy Open a glossary item) from when they had their endoscopy. When they looked at these in the laboratory they found that curcumin may have some beneficial effect.

The trial team concluded that taking curcumin tablets may help people with Barrett’s oesophagus and a trial with a larger number of people needs to be done to confirm this.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Prof Gareth Jenkins
Professor J. N. Baxter

Supported by

Swansea NHS Trust Research and Development Fund
University of Swansea GI Tract Molecular Pathology Research Group

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 661

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Around 1 in 5 people take part in clinical trials

3 phases of trials

Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.

Last reviewed:

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