News / Health

Study: Spicier Diet Could Help Fight Cancer

Greg Flakus

While researchers around the world continue searching for new and better treatments for various forms of cancer, they are also finding more evidence that simple changes in diet and lifestyle can, in many cases, prevent the disease. The effects of smoking are well established, but many doctors now say bad eating habits, lack of exercise, obesity and stressful living can also be big risk factors.  One researcher thinks adding a little spice to your diet could also help.

In a research laboratory at Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic, Bharat Aggarwal has been studying the medicinal use of spices, like the turmeric he grew up eating in his native India.

Spice of Life

"These spices have been used day in and day out as a meat preservative and these spices are anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-virus," said Aggarwal.

Much of his research focuses on curcumin, a natural substance used to make turmeric, a chief ingredient in curry sauces, which has been shown to be effective in reducing cancerous tumors.

While some doctors scoffed at the notion of using a spice to treat cancer, Aggarwal persisted.  And now, he says, other researchers are also showing good results.

"There were at least half a dozen clinical trials that appeared last year alone on curcumin, where as little as 100 milligrams is enough to down modulate all the inflammatory bio-markers in people; we are not talking about rats or mice or anything," Aggarwal added.

But Aggarwal is the first to say that neither curcumin nor any other food provides a "magic bullet" to stop cancer. He advocates moderation in diet and lifestyle and the consumption of a variety of natural foods.

"There are 800 different kinds of food items out there, 800!  An average American eats no more than 10.  So variety is the name of the game," Aggarwal noted.

That is the same approach being taken by Atlanta chef Hans Rueffert, who demonstrated his salad-making skills at a recent Cancer Survivorship Conference in Houston.

Rueffert is a big believer in using fresh ingredients and borrowing from every type of cuisine.

"I think any good chef is constantly learning about different cultures, different cuisines and you sort of take the best of each one," Rueffert explained.

But Rueffert is especially interested in healthy eating because he, too, is a cancer survivor, having lost his stomach and part of his esophagus to the disease.  He acknowledges the irony, but he says that also gives his message more impact.

"I know what radiation is like. I know what chemo is like. I know what surgeries are like.  So when I am up there and talking about how these foods benefit you, I am not reading from some book... to know that is to live that; and I have lived that," said Rueffert.

Diet vs Gene Therapy

Bharat Aggarwal thinks investigating the chemicals in foods and spices will do more to prevent cancer than expensive research on genetic links.

"These genes are going to be with us no matter what," said Aggarwal.  "So we are not going to be able to fix those, but that is where all the money is going into."

Aggarwal notes that spices like curcumin have long been known to promote health.

"The natural compound is working very well and it has been used for thousands of years and it is very inexpensive," Aggarwal added.

And expense is an important consideration as the United States faces budgetary struggles and an aging population of so-called "baby boomers" who are going to need more medical care in the years ahead.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid