Dr. Ajay Goel, PhD is my kind of guy. He says genetics plays a role in less than five percent of cancers. So if your mom or dad got cancer, it‘s not a guarantee you‘ll get it too.
In fact, Dr. Goel says the vast majority of cancers arise from "epigenetic influences," or diet and environmental factors which influence your genes.
You see, according to Goel, some factors turn protective genes on. And some factors turn these protective genes off.
This is good news, he says, because it means "you can influence 95 percent of all cancers with environment and lifestyle changes…" Which brings us to the benefits of curcumin…the Indian spice superstar.
To help flesh out his theory, Dr. Goel is studying ways to keep these protective genes turned on. For one, Goel found that certain foods can "reawaken" sleeping genes that suppress tumors. These genes tell your body to launch the attack against cancer cells!
So which foods did Dr. Goel study?
Well, it’s not really a food exactly. Rather, it’s curcumin, and it’s found in two popular cooking spices. Can cooking with these spices give you the benefits of curcumin, namely protection from cancer?
Healing powers found in Indian cuisine
If you‘ve never tried cooking with tumeric or curry, you should. That‘s because these spices contain curcumin, a polyphenol that gives the spices their bright yellow color. Because of the health benefits of curcumin, it has also been used medicinally for thousands of years in India and China.
Much of the recent research on the benefits of curcumin involves its effect on the brain. Last year, researchers from Cedars-Sinai created a new molecule from curcumin. They found it might protect the brain and rebuild brain cells following a stroke.
In addition, UCLA researchers found another benefit of curcumin is that it reduces inflammation and oxidative damage in the brains of Alzheimer‘s patients. Not only that, but researchers discovered that curcumin reduces the hallmark symptom of Alzheimer‘s disease -- plaques and tangles. You see, curcumin crosses the blood-brain barrier and seems to help sweep away harmful proteins that accumulate in the brain.
But can curcumin also protect you against cancer, as Dr. Goel suggests?
Reawaken your protective genes
In a study published in the journal Gastroenterology, Dr. Goel looked at the "epigenetic influences" of curcumin on colon cancer cells. He wanted to see if curcumin could help "reawaken" the genes that protect you against colon cancer.
A year ago, Dr. Goel isolated three colon cancer cell lines. Then, he treated the cells with various concentrations of curcumin.
Next, he watched for any changes to the DNA that occurred after six days and after eight months. Almost immediately, he discovered the amazing benefits of curcumin -- it did indeed "awaken" the sleeping genes. According to Goel, "this process keeps the cancerous tumor from growing and spreading, and is vitally important."
Dr. Goel also believes another benefit of curcumin is that it will work on other forms of cancer. He believes the research holds a lot of promise.
I suspect Dr. Goel is right on track...
In fact, clinical trials on the benefits of curcumin and colon and pancreatic cancer are already underway. Men and women in these trials take high doses of curcumin to treat cancer. I‘ll keep you posted on their outcomes.
Prevention is a far easier hand to play. So give Dr. Goel‘s advice a chance. Try tumeric and curry in your cooking . I like to sprinkle it on my stir-fried veggies.
Plus, Dr. Goel promises to keep searching for other "epigenetic" influences on cancer, besides curcumin. I‘ll keep you updated on his progress.