October 7, 2022

WHY do Indians have a low incidence of stomach cancers? Study lauds this spice in our daily diet

The spice of life and healing: Turmeric has anti-cancer properties, says study. &nbsp |…

The spice of life and healing: Turmeric has anti-cancer properties, says study. &nbsp | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspiStock Images

Key Highlights

  • Cancer is a dreaded disease and the mere mention of the C-word brings a pall of gloom on the patient and his/her near and dear ones.

  • Prevention is the best cure in this disease as in any other disease.

  • What dietary and lifestyle habits should we adopt or change to beat this monstrous disease at bay?

We often have a habit of not valuing several factors in our lives until someone in the western world highlights the great benefits of what we already owned. Such as the dark skin that we have. The melanin in our skin that gives it the brown colour also protects it from cancers caused by the harsh ultraviolet radiation of the sun and also empowers us to be able to handle the tropical sunlight well as we move in its rays all day long.

Similarly, that’s what is happening with the foods we eat. Tempted and lured by the highly processed foods of the west that are their bane and cause of diseases, we love to order pizzas, pastries, doughnuts, etc these days.

WHY do Indians have the lowest level of cancer cases in the world?

And the West meanwhile has researched WHY Indians have the lowest level of cancer cases in the world and FOUND that it’s the food that our ancestors prescribed and we ate that is the key reason for our health.

In his article titled “Why are Cancer Rates so Low in India?” Dr Michael Herschel Greger observes: “Population-based data indicate that some extremely common cancers in the Western world are much less prevalent in regions where turmeric is widely consumed in the diet. 

For example, “overall cancer rates are much lower in India than in western countries.”  US men get 23 times more prostate cancer than men in India. Americans get between 8 and 14 times the rate of melanoma, 10 to 11 times more colorectal cancer, 9 times more endometrial cancer, 7 to 17 times more lung cancer, 7 to 8 times more bladder cancer, 5 times more breast cancer, and 9 to 12 times more kidney cancer. This is not a mere 5, 10, or 20 per cent more, but 5, 10, or 20 times more. Hundreds of per cent more breast cancer, thousands of per cent more prostate cancer—differences even greater than some of those found in the China Study.” 

Spice box Masala dibba haldi turmeric laal teekha chilli powder mirch

What authority does Dr Michael Greger have in the clinical field?

49-year-old Michael Herschel Greger is an American physician, author, and professional speaker on public health issues, best known for his advocacy of a whole-food, plant-based diet, and his opposition to animal-derived food products.

Dr Greger writes that it is estimated that many tumours start around the age of 20. However, detection of cancer is normally around the age of 50 or later. Thus, it takes cancer decades to incubate. 

Dr Greger observes that several dietary factors may contribute to the low overall rate of cancer in India. Among them are:

  1. A “relatively low intake of meat, 
  2. A mostly plant-based diet, 
  3. The high intake of spices.


Dr Michael Greger lauds THE GREAT INDIAN DIET:

  1. Forty per cent of Indians are vegetarians,
  2. And even the ones that do eat meat, don’t eat a lot.
  3. And it’s not only WHAT they DON’T eat, but what they DO.
  4. India is one of the largest producers and consumers of fresh fruits and vegetables,
  5. And Indians eat a lot of pulses (legumes), such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
  6. They also eat a wide variety of spices in addition to turmeric. 
  7. And that constitutes, by weight, the most antioxidant-packed class of foods in the world.

Dr Greger writes that since 1987, the US-based National Cancer Institute (NCI) has tested more than 1,000 different potential agents for chemoprotective activity, of which only 40 promising agents were moved to clinical trials.

“Curcumin, present in the Indian spice “Haldi” is one such agent that is currently under clinical investigation for cancer chemoprevention,” Dr Greger says in his video. 

Anti-cancer products (chemoprotective agents) are classified into 3 groups as per their mode of action:

  1. Antiproliferative
  2. Antioxidants
  3. Carcinogen-blocking agents

Research shows that curcumin in turmeric acts on all three levels. It blocks every stage of cancer transmission, proliferation, and invasion. It begins its action even before the carcinogens get to our cells. 

Cancer Research (UK) says “There is some evidence that curcumin, a substance in turmeric, can kill cancer cells in certain cancers. But we need more research.”

It adds, “Research has shown lower rates of certain cancers in countries where people eat more curcumin. This is at curcumin levels of about 100mg to 200mg a day over long periods of time.

A few laboratory studies on cancer cells have shown that curcumin has anti-cancer effects. It seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It has the best effects on breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells.”

Dr Greger refers to a study titled “Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women”, carried out by the University of Tsukuba, Japan. He also mentions another Japanese study titled “Effect of endurance exercise training and curcumin intake on central arterial hemodynamics in postmenopausal women: A Pilot Study” carried out by the Human-Technology Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Japan. Both these studies show the cancer-fighting prowess of turmeric, says Dr Greger. 

We hope you are consuming at least a spoonful of turmeric in the entire day’s cooked meals. Check with your doctor about the correct amount to have and whether it clashes with any current medicines you use. Also, all the above details about turmeric’s strengths DO NOT mean you stop your current medicines and start having turmeric. 

Meanwhile, for its aroma, colour, taste (flavour), and medicinal benefits, your mum will continue to add a spoonful of turmeric to most dishes (vegetables and dals) that she cooks. And you will continue to enjoy its anti-viral, anti-biotic, and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.