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Cancer Health Center

Top Cancer-Fighting Foods

Mounting evidence shows that the foods we eat weigh heavily in the war against cancer.
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Curcumin continued...

Cancer-Fighting Abilities

Curcumin's protective effects may extend to bladder and gastrointestinal cancers. Some say they don't stop with these types of cancer. "Among all the cancers we and others have examined, no cancer yet has been found which is not affected by curcumin. This is expected, as inflammation is the mediator for most cancer," Aggarwal tells WebMD.

How to Get It

Curcumin flavors lots of popular Indian dishes, as it is the main ingredient in curry powder. It complements rice, chicken, vegetable, and lentils. Some chefs sprinkle the bright, yellow powder into recipes for a burst of color.

Ginger

This popular spice, long used to quell nausea, may soon be used to fight cancer, too.

How It Works

Working directly on cancer cells, researchers discovered ginger's ability to kill cancer cells in two ways. In apoptosis, the cancer cells essentially commit suicide without harming surrounding cells. In autophagy, "the cells are tricked into digesting themselves," explains J. Rebecca Liu, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who has been studying ginger's effects on ovarian cancercells. While this preliminary evidence shows promise, ginger's cancer-fighting effects must still be proven in animal and human trials.

Cancer-Fighting Abilities

Armed with ginger, ongoing research is taking aim against the most lethal of gynecological cancers: ovarian cancer. "Most women [with ovarian cancer] develop resistance to conventional chemotherapy drugs," Liu tells WebMD. Because ginger may kill cancer cells in more than one way, researchers are hopeful that patients would not develop resistance to it.

Because ginger's effects on cancer haven't been tested directly on human subjects, researchers can't yet offer specific dietary recommendations. "We don't know how it's metabolized," Liu says. But that needn't stop people from adding ginger to their diet. "We know it's relatively nontoxic," Liu tells WebMD.

How to Get It

Go beyond the obvious choices, like sipping ginger ale and eating gingerbread cookies. Countless soups, sumptuous marinades, and zesty sauces call for ginger.

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Reviewed on April 24, 2006

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