Cancer is a complex disease caused by potentially hundreds of factors that cause DNA damage — including diet and lifestyle. From a cancer-preventive perspective, turmeric is widely and frequently used by people across Southeast Asia, an area known to have low rates of most types of cancer. (vi.1-2)
In fact, the people of India have far less cancer than people of industrialized Western countries do, even though they may have greater exposure to carcinogens. Matched by age, these lower rates involve different types of cancer, and include:
99%+ less prostate cancer
90% less kidney cancer
88% less lung cancer
89% less colon cancer
80% less breast cancer
Some cancers are more prevalent in certain areas of India and Singapore (such as oral and gallbladder cancers). Experts suggest this may be due to tobacco use, high rates of certain viral infections, and genetics (in the case of gallbladder cancer rates). (vi.149)
Compared to whites in the U.S.A. and Great Britain, overall cancer rates for native Indians in India and Singapore are almost 2-3 times less. Interestingly, rates of cancer for Indians living in the U.S.A. and Great Britain are somewhere in between whites living in these countries and Indians living in India and Singapore.
How Can Natural Compounds in a Spice Work So Well Against Cancer?
It's impossible to know for certain if dietary turmeric is directly responsible for India and Singapore's low cancer rates of cancers. After all, most types of cancer involve literally hundreds of dysregulated genes and protein factors, making it an extraordinarily complex disease.
It may seem counterintuitive that the natural plant compounds in turmeric could exert powerful antitumor effects for most people. However, modern lab, animal and clinical human studies strongly indicate that they do. Researchers suggest that this is because turmeric's curcumin compounds target multiple factors at once. This means turmeric compounds could actually be particularly helpful in a disease such as cancer that involves so many dysregulated genes.
Researchers continue to discover the many biochemical antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms of turmeric's antitumor effects. In the meantime, it wouldn't hurt to try spicing up your diet with some turmeric.