Curcumin Plus EPA Omega-3 May Reduce Cancer-Related Muscle Loss?

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A new animal study finds Sabinsa’s Curcumin C3 Complex combined with EPA omega-3s may attenuate weight loss in mice with colon tumors.

Curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids may seem like two very different types of ingredients, but a new animal study1 suggests they may offer a synergistic effect on attenuating the loss of weight and muscle, also known as cachexia, caused by cancer. Researchers found that MAC16 colon tumor–bearing mice who were given Sabinsa’s (East Windsor, NJ) Curcumin C3 Complex in addition to Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) omega-3 lost less weight than mice consuming either EPA or curcumin alone.

For six days, the 24 tumor-bearing mice were given Curcumin C3 Complex (100 mg/kg of body weight), EPA (500 mg/kg of body weight), or a combination of both treatments by oral gavage once per day. While EPA or curcumin alone had no observed effect on weight loss, mice treated with the combination of both gained 2g of body weight on the first day of the study and did not experience significant weight loss during the treatment. By the end of the treatment period, the EPA plus curcumin group had lost 1.7 g of body weight, compared to 7.7 g of body weight lost in the control groups, suggesting the combination treatment may be more effective at preventing muscle wasting in cancer cachexia, researchers concluded.

In an announcement of the study, Sabinsa noted that past studies have found C3 Complex may attenuate muscle wasting the accompanies certain disease conditions2, and that omega-3s and C3 Complex combined may ameliorate protein degradation in cancer cachexia3.

“Curcumin and omega-3s have become staples of many consumers’ dietary supplement regimens in recent years, making it beneficial to know how the combination of the two work together,” said Shaheen Majeed, marketing director for Sabinsa, in the study announcement. “While these results are exciting, they apply to C3 Complex only. We can’t speculate that the same benefits would be found with other brands of curcumin, given the many very different forms on the market.”


Read more:

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Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine


1.   Luo M et al., “Effect of combination of low doses of EPA and curcumin on muscle wasting in MAC16 colon tumor-bearing mice,” The FASEB Journal, vol. 30, no. 1, suppl. lb312 (April 2016)

2.  Siddiqui RA et al., “Attenuation of proteolysis and muscle wasting by curcumin c3 complex in MAC16 colon tumour-bearing mice,” British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 102 (April 2009): 967–975

3.  Mirza KA et al., “In vitro assessment of the combined effect of eicosapentaenoic acid, green tea extract, and curcumin C3 on protein loss in C2C12 myotubes,” In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology. Published online May 18, 2016.