One spice is touted for its preventative and anti-inflammatory qualities, and it's a key ingredient found in Indian food. That may explain why cancer rates are way lower in India.
By day, Dr. Ajay Goel is a scientist, trying to unlock genetic codes to prevent cancer. By night, he’s passionate about cooking Indian food, specifically curcumin, the anti-inflammatory that is found in turmeric, the yellow spice used in most Indian food.
"Colon cancer incidents (are) 10 to 15 times lower in India compared to U.S. Lung cancer about seven- to eight-fold lower in India compared to U.S. Breast cancer 5 to 10 times lower in India compared to U.S.," said Goel, director of gastrointestinal research and cancer prevention for Baylor Scott & White Health.
Goel and his family enjoy traditional Indian cooking. Three meals a day, spiced with turmeric. There’s now a volume of scientific evidence showing that curcumin is a safe, and powerful anti-inflammatory.
"What we were missing at that time, we didn’t have the science behind it, we just knew that somebody took this and felt better," Goel said.
In a study, Goel examined a combination of extracts from turmeric and frankincense, and looked at the impact on colon cancer. In animal tests, the extracts impacted tumor growth by the second day.
JaNeene Jones took ibuprofen for a bad back. After seeing an integrative medicine physician, she started on curcumin capsules daily to reduce inflammation.
"So I tried it and it worked. There was nothing else I changed. No other variables whatsoever," said Jones, a registered nurse at Baylor Sammons Cancer Center.
"It’s a passion for me and I feel privileged in a sense that I can see the science, and I can see the anecdotal evidence, and I can see the limitations. I can see the positive things," Goel said.
If you're shopping for supplements and want the full benefit of curcumin, buy curcumin capsules, not turmeric.
Turmeric is the spice, curcumin is the medicine.
And of course, always talk to your doctor before taking anything new.