By Lana Maciel, MD Anderson Staff Writer
One of the keys to tumor suppression could possibly lie in the Indian spice turmeric. Often used in curry dishes, it is commonly known as "Indian solid gold" for its proven health benefits.
Various scientific studies have shown that the yellow compound in turmeric, curcumin, contains potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These can inhibit tumor cell growth and suppress enzymes that activate carcinogens.
In fact, a small Phase II study at MD Anderson in 2008 indicated that in patients with pancreatic cancer, daily dosage of curcumin without chemotherapy helped slow tumor growth in some patients and reduced the size of a tumor in one patient.
Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics, continues to conduct and analyze a number of studies that focus on the effects of curcumin on cancer. He says he believes it is effective on all forms of the disease due to its suppression of angiogenesis (blood vessel growth) of tumor cells.
"No cancer has been found, to my knowledge, which is not affected by curcumin," Aggarwal says. "The reason curcumin is so effective against cancer is that it hits not just a single target or cell signaling pathway but dozens of targets implicated in cancer."
In addition to these scientific findings, the cancer rate in South Asia makes an even stronger case for the cancer-fighting benefits of turmeric. It is used regularly in culinary dishes of this region.
"The incidence of the top four cancers in the United States-- colon, breast, prostate and lung -- is 10 times lower in India," Aggarwal says.
Incorporate turmeric into your daily diet
Used as a primary ingredient in many Indian, Persian, Thai and Malay dishes, turmeric pairs well with garlic, citrus, coriander and cumin. You, too, can reap the benefits of this spice by using it in your daily cooking.
For starters, try the following recipe, courtesy of Aggarwal, as a great side dish for a healthy curried chicken dish.
Vegetables With Turmeric
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon cumin
• ½ teaspoon coriander powder
• ½ teaspoon pomegranate seeds
• ½ teaspoon mango powder
• Sliced vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, etc.
• Sliced onions, ginger and tomatoes
1. In a small bowl, mix together salt, turmeric, red chili, cumin and coriander powders.
2. On a stovetop, heat the olive oil in a pan. First roast onions and ginger and then add vegetables and spice mix together in the pan and stir until vegetables are coated in spices.
3. Allow vegetables to simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Turn off the heat, sprinkle with sliced tomatoes, pomegranate seeds and mango powder and enjoy.
Turmeric Adds Spice to Your Health
By Lana Maciel, MD Anderson Staff Writer
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