Cancer seems to be affecting almost everyone, whether you yourself are diagnosed or you are affected by the diagnosis of a loved one. In fact, it is estimated that 1 out of every 3 people will fall victim to cancer at some point in their lives. With it being such a prevalent threat, it may seem that there is little or nothing we can do to fight or prevent cancer. However, exciting new research shows that some spices are very, very effective in reducing one’s risk of getting cancer.
Spices for Cancer Prevention
Below you will find a list of some of the most powerful spices when it comes to preventing cancer.
Also known as “Jamaica pepper,” “kurundu,” allspice possesses powerful antimicrobial, antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antitumorigenic capacities. It is also rich in flavonoids, phenolic acids, and catechins. One study (Kluth et al, 2007) showed that allspice extract was able to activate certain detoxification enzymes in carcinoma cells.
While there are a variety of types of basil, many of which are good for your health, it is sweet basil that seems to be the most effective in fighting cancer. A 2004 study (Dasgupta, Rao, and Yadava) showed that basil consumption decreased both tumor size and number of tumors in mice.
Studies done by Kapoor, et al in 2010 showed the antioxidant power of caraway essential oil, and Schwaireb in 1993 used mice to show that caraway oil can decrease skin tumors. It is also believed that caraway’s ability to modify carcinogen bioactivation contributes to its ability to prevent and fight cancer.
4. Cayenne Pepper
Early research performed on animals suggested that the capsaicin found in cayenne pepper may actually kill cancer cells. In one study performed on prostate cancer cells, it was found that capsaicin induced cellular suicide in these cancerous cells. This exciting study was issued in Cancer Research in its March 15, 2006 issue.
5. Ceylon Cinnamon
It is believed that ½ teaspoon of Ceylon (true) cinnamon consumed every day may be enough to keep cancer away. Cinnamon is effective in inhibiting cancer because it prevents and reduces the growth of tumors. Its potential efficacy in treating pancreatic cancer, as suggested by studies authored by Farinha and Gascoyne in 2005, and Eslick in 2006, is especially exciting.
There is a component in cumin called thymoquinone that is able to inhibit the increase of prostate cancer cells. Research (Gali-Muhtasib, Roessner, and Schneider-Stick, 2006) also suggests that thymoquinone is able to prevent the growth of colorectal, breast, ovarian, and pancreatic tumors.
It’s not quite apparent why, but it is believed that garlic can prevent breast, colon, skin, esophageal, and lung cancers. One theory is that garlic’s efficacy arises from its ability to break down allicin, which is necessary for tumor inhibition, according to Sakamoto, Lawson, and Milner, 1997.
Studies have shown that ginger consumption in animals reduces cancerous lesions in the body. This is supported by a study completed in 2006 by Ihlaseh, et al. Although Pan et al, 2008 cautions that the mechanism in ginger that causes these results is unclear and more research needs to be done, it is believed that ginger does indeed have some level of antitumorigenic properties.
Thanks to its richness in phenolic acids and flavonoids, oregano is an incredible source of antioxidant activity. The phytochemical quercetin found in oregano is believed to inhibit the growth of malignant cells in the body. Currently, oregano is being looked at for its promising effects in fighting prostate cancer.
Rosemary is well-known for its bioactive compounds and heavy antioxidant activity. There is increasing evidence to suggest that rosemary may be especially effective in preventing and treating chemically-induced cancers. Research done by Yesil-Celiktas et al in 2010 suggested that rosemary extract may inhibit the growth and spread of various cancerous cells, such as lung, prostate, and liver.
There is a carotenoid called “crocetin” that is found in saffron that is believed to actually stop and reverse the growth of tumors. At least two studies, Abdullaev in 2003, and Das, Chakrabarty, and Das in 2004, have supported the theory that saffron inhibits carcinogenesis. It is also believed that consuming saffron will not only eradicate cancerous tumors, but will also prolong the life of that individual consuming the spice.
Curcumin is also found in turmeric and is a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient. New research being done at Ludwig-Maximilians Universitat in Munich, Germany supports the belief that curcumin may also inhibit metastases. It has long been accepted that curcumin prevents the growth of cancer cells and actually initiates cell suicide in these cells. In addition, James A. Duke, PhD, showed that turmeric is a powerful natural tool in fighting various chronic diseases in addition to cancer.
Researchers are very hopeful that more studies will be done and will show the obvious connection between turmeric consumption and a reduction in cancer. Turmeric is very safe and easy to incorporate into your diet, and may be something to think about for those that are at an increased risk for cancer.
Nature has given us a treatment for many of life’s maladies, and this list of effective cancer-fighting spices is proof of that. Even better, you don’t have to already be suffering from cancer to reap the benefits of these herbs and spices. Incorporating some (or all) of them into your diet on a regular basis may very well significantly reduce your chances of ever becoming a cancer victim.