Yesterday morning I received a Google Alert about this important trial. A few blog readers also “alerted” me to its existence (thanx!). I tracked down and devoured the full study. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, you can read the abstract here: goo.gl/bcVxt
Let’s see. Based on the abstract, curcumin had a strong positive effect on the free light chain ratio…It also decreased a marker of bone resorption called uDPYD (= “urinary deoxypyridinoline”; without too much ado, let me just say that keeping it down down down is a good thing!) and diminished creatinine levels. Take my word for it: all good stuff!
Quick personal note: my own FLC ratio fluctuates madly with each test, down and up and down again, but I just read a sort of “P.S.” on my report, stating that this test doesn’t distinguish between polyclonal and monoclonal free light chains. Hmmm, not sure what to make of that… Another problem: I didn’t have my FLCs tested in the pre-curcumin period. Back then, I didn’t even know about ’em, let alone that they could be tested. So I can’t do any comparative work, since I don’t know what my baseline was…Too bad. However, on the Binding Site, I still turn out to be MGUS with BM suppression. So I’m not going to worry my pretty little head over thaaaat! 😉
Let’s get to the abstract conclusions: These findings suggest that curcumin might have the potential to slow the disease process in patients with MGUS and SMM.
I tell ya, after years of watching doctors roll their eyes at me and tell me that there was no way I could slow down the progress of this terrible cancer, I feel vindicated. Finally and completely. I mean, I’ve felt vindicated on a few occasions in the past few years, too. But this time it’s different…The results of this Australian trial, in which MGUS and SMM folks participated, have really put a lovely, delicious cherry on my (chocolate, of course!) cake. What I read yesterday confirms, to me anyway, that I made the right choice when, more than six years ago, I decided to take the “alternative” fork in the myeloma road…Not an easy choice, mind you. No, not back then. But I don’t want to dwell on the past…not today!
Okay, now, without revealing too many details (I don’t want to get into any trouble!), let me dive into the full study.
Its aim was to find out if a dose of 4 or 8 grams would have any effect on MGUS and SMM.
Now this is interesting. The patients in the curcumin “arm” swallowed (with yoghurt or another fat) C3 curcuminoid granule stick-packs. Stick-packs? Never heard of those. Of course, those who got a placebo for the first three months also swallowed stick-packs, without the curcumin inside ‘em, of course. Quick but important note: the study declares all the placebo ingredients, by the way, which is REALLY GOOD…Do you remember my recent placebo post? Yikes!
The main markers tested were: paraprotein, FLC values, total protein, B2M, PTH, albumin and creatinine. The one that stood out to me was the PTH test. PTH stands for parathyroid hormone. I mean, why was PTH preferred to, say, serum calcium, uric acid or LDH? Hmmm…perplexing. However, it turns out that a few patients had hyperparathyroidism, which is what I suffer from on occasion, when my vitamin D levels drop too much (I try to be careful about that!). Coincidence? Oh…bloody ‘ell, I have no idea what that means…I might have to write to the main author about this…Ok, let’s keep going…
I was super curious to find out what happened to the patients that dropped out of, or were excluded from, the study. What happened is that a few didn’t follow the program correctly, and a few progressed to active myeloma (based on which parameters, I wonder…hmmm…I’d love to know that…) and began doing chemotherapy. Incidentally, in “group A” (the original curcumin arm, that is), two of the four SMM patients who began chemo chose to continue taking curcumin. Three cheers for them! I’d love to know how they’re all doing…Does anyone know? (If you read my blog, please get in touch with me…I’d be thrilled! Thanks.)
As for group B, the original “placebo” arm, two patients left the study because of diarrhea issues, and one SMM patient progressed to full-blown myeloma.
Their data was therefore excluded.
Okay, let’s see what else we’ve got. No big changes occurred in paraprotein at the 4 gram dose. The big changes were the FLC ratio and the bone resorption marker, which, ahaaaa!, increased (= not good, eh) when the patients switched over to the placebo. That’s significant, I’d say!
Now we’re going to leave the 4 gram/day study and have a look at the subsequent, 8 gram/day curcumin arm. Here we have a total of 18 patients (9 from each group) who experienced significant reductions in FLC values, total protein and random urinary protein, as well as in uDPYD and PTH. Yaaaay! No changes noticed in serum albumin, B2M or hemoglobin.
I wanted to check those last three results against my own tests, but I ended up in a bit of a quagmire. The one that’s absolutely certain is hemoglobin. My Hb hasn’t changed a smidgen since the pre-curcumin period, when it was 13.2. It’s still 13.2. So, while curcumin is a metal chelator, at least it hasn’t made me anemic! What it did do, thank goodness!, was bring down my dangerously-near-the-high-end-of-the-normal-range iron levels to more manageable levels (my serum iron is now 72 micrograms/dL, as opposed to being in the upper hundreds. In one 2005 test, it even went to 164 mcg/dL, that is, 24 points above the reference range, yikes). And, since it’s not good to have high iron levels, I’m really happy about that. As for B2M and albumin, I was sorry to notice that their reference ranges have really changed over the years (verrrry annoying!), so it’s impossible to tell… Uff!
Oh well. Back to Australia, now. Remember, we’re having a look at the 8 gram takers, now. Here’s a good one: patients who began the study with an abnormal FLC (most of ‘em, that is) also had a reduction in their paraprotein levels, and this is important, since apparently this didn’t occur at the lower, 4 gram dose.
This seems to confirm that 4 grams is not a high enough dose if we really want to have an impact on our numbers. Just my interpretation, of course…
I know I shouldn’t be quoting from the full study, but I hope it’s okay to share this with you: To our knowledge, this is the first randomised study to show a beneficial effect of curcumin on light chains in MGUS and SMM patients. Normalization of the FLC ratio has previously been shown in myeloma patients after chemotherapy and have been reported to be highly predictive of achieving a complete response. Complete response, huh? Sweet.
The study ends on an important note: None of the 25 patients who completed the 4g study (which includes the 18 on 8g/day) have progressed to active disease one year after the study has been completed. (Oh drat…another quote…ehm…)
Of course, only time will tell. But all these positive findings, all the improvements in important markers confirm that, for some of us (= those of us taking a higher dose, those of us who have wacky FLC numbers and so on…), perhaps most of us!, curcumin can indeed be a powerful helper in the battle against this terrible cancer. I’m living proof of that, aren’t I?
For now, anyway… 😉
Thank you, Australia!!!