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Jeff asked...

I am on Decapeptyl SR for prostate cancer, can I take turmeric supplement?

Tags: cancer

Several of my friends say they get pain relief from taking a turmeric supplement. I have started taking turmeric and it does seem to give some relief from aching muscles and joints. I am currently having 6 monthly injections of Decapeptyl SR to combat prostate cancer. Is there any known problem related to a)Decapeptyl or b)prostate cancer if taking turmeric.

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The answer

Thank you for contacting Health at Hand.

There does not appear to be any interactions between Decapeptyl SR and turmeric.

We thought you may want a brief overview of Tumeric abd Decapepetyl SR so we included the information below.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice that belongs to the ginger family. It is a perennial plant and grows as a root. The root is dried and ground into a powder. This ground powder is the bright yellow spice that most people recognize as turmeric.

Turmeric as a Medicine

Turmeric has many biological properties and was originally used in Ayurvedic medicine in India. Since 1971 it has been used as a medicine in other parts of the world under certain circumstances.

Tumeric has curcuminoids that includes curcumin which are thought to give turmeric its medicinal properties.

It is used in 4 main ways;

  1. As an anti-inflammatory,
  2. As a liver protecting agent and anticlotting agent
  3. As a chemo protective agent in cancer. This means that it stops a tumour from forming, progressing and spreading.
  4. As an antioxidant and as an antibacterial.

Turmeric supplements

As with all herbal medicines the actual dose is highly dependent on a variety of factors, such as growing and harvesting conditions, plant parts and extraction methods used, and the dosage form chosen by the manufacturer. Standardization to single constituent markers has proven unreliable. Currently there are no official standards available that regulate the production of herbal medicines in the UK. This means that any recommended doses must be used as guidelines only.

You do not mention the exact turmeric supplement you are using but you may be interested to know that the Cancer Research UK website states that “The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a warning about the turmeric based food supplement Fortodol (also sold as Miradin). Fortodol has been found to contain the strong anti-inflammatory drug nimesulide. Nimesulide can cause serious damage to the liver and is not licensed as a medicine in the UK. The Food Standards Agency in the USA states that taking products that contain unknown amounts of nimesulide could be very harmful. Fortodol and Miradin are sold in the UK and on the internet as food supplements. The FSA advises anyone taking these products to stop doing so immediately, and contact their doctor if they have any signs of liver disease. The signs include jaundice, dark urine, nausea, vomiting, unusual tiredness, stomach or abdominal pain, or loss of appetite”.

Please note turmeric spice itself does not contain nimesulide so dietary spice does not contain nimesulide, however certain turmeric supplements may contain this ingredient or another ingredient that may not be safe for you to take. Therefore I suggest that you look closely at the turmeric supplement you are taking to ensure that it solely contains turmeric as the active ingredient.

What dose of turmeric?

The Arthritis Research UK states that “Human clinical trials haven’t found turmeric to be toxic when given at doses of 1–10 g a day. In studies, participants received doses of approximately 1–1.5 g a day but also up to 8 g a day”.

Please check that if you are taking a supplement that the dose is within limits. Overdose of turmeric is thought to cause harm.

Dietary intake of turmeric in curries and other food preparations is very small so it is thought to be safe and compatible with most medicines.

Medicines to avoid when taking turmeric supplement

There are 3 main groups of medicines that are not compatible with turmeric.These include the following

  • Anticlotting such as Warfarin,
  • Antiplatelet agents such as aspirin
  • Low Molecular weight heparins such as Clexane

Decapeptyl SR does not fall into these categories and they are no listed interactions between Decapeptyl SR and turmeric.

If you are taking other medications and you are unsure you should ask your doctor or your pharmacist for guidance.

People who should avoid taking turmeric supplements include

  1. Hypersensitivity to turmeric or curcumin
  2. Should not be taken by patients with gall stones or bile duct obstruction (McGuffin et al, 1997)
  3. Curcuma longa should not be taken by patients with hyperacidity or with gastrointestinal ulcers (McGuffin et al, 1997)
  4. Obstruction of bile passages (Blumenthal et al, 1998)
  5. Pregnancy, due to turmeric's emmenagogue and uterine stimulant effects (Brinker, 1998; McGuffin et al, 1997)

As you can see from the list above there are no reports of avoiding turmeric in prostate cancer.

Decapeptyl SR

What is it?

The active ingredient in Decapeptyl SR is Triptorelin.

Triptorelin is similar to Gonadorelin. Gonadorelin is a synthetic form of the natrurally occurring hormone realeased by the hypothalamus in the brain. Decapeptyl is used to suppress the production of naturally occurring sex hormones and the treatment of prostate cancer amongst other uses.

How is it given?

In advanced prostate cancer it is given as a 3 monthly injection.

When it is first given it can cause a temporary rise in the testosterone levels. As a consequence the symptoms of prostate cancer may become worse. So in the first few weeks of the treatment you may be offered a medicine to counteract this effect. Once this initial effect settles you will not need this additional anti-androgenic medicine.

Side effects of Decapeptyl SR

Long-term you may be prone to bone loss and osteoporosis. You may be given medicine to prevent osteoporosis.

Other common side effects include back pain, headache, and muscular pain, pain in the pelvis, erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, dry mouth, dizziness, mood change and depression.

If you have any of these side-effects it is worth mentioning it to your doctor.

Further information

If you would like more information please have a look at the web links below:-

Can turmeric prevent bowel cancer? - Cancer Research UK

Complementary medicines for osteoarthritis - Arthritis Research UK

Triptorelin - Cancer Research UK

If you need further assistance or you have thought of other questions please do not hesitate to contact us here at Health at Hand AXA PPP Healthcare.