- Question from Lisa: I've read that curry can help prevent cancer. Is this true? How does it work? How much should I eat?
Typically the main ingredient in curry is a herb called turmeric which contains a compound called curcumin. A recent study showed it may inhibit melanoma cancer. It helps signal cancer cells that they are no longer welcome, and should die, but also has anti-inflammatory benefits. It may be beneficial for a number of cancers.
Men and women are equally affected by heart disease, and what we're finding with the dietary strategy we're discussing today is that it is helpful to avoid a number of conditions for the whole family.
- Judith Sachs Since curry powder contains a number of herbs, is it better to just buy the turmeric?
- David Grotto There are dietary supplements of curcumin available. But they are best given under the care of a licensed professional. We're really talking about not a single bullet if you want, not a single food, but we don't know about the potential synergy of all these foods. So you may not have a super high level of turmeric in your diet, but what will happen if you combine it with a low Omega-6 and high Omega-3 diet.
- Penny Block In addition to that, it's not really going to work if you eat sugary cereal then put a little turmeric in the meal at dinner. Dave is wondering why I'm having trouble holding back a giggle—I remember making a no-egg tofu salad for sandwiches, and it must have been dark in the kitchen because I put in way too much turmeric and the kids said that kids at school laughed at their bright yellow egg salad. Turmeric is very yellow! And you would be yellow too if you ate it in enough concentration.
Our big concern is that people think if they don't like turmeric, they're avoiding the benefit if they don't eat it. But everyone can find a favorite vegetable or something else. Let's not focus on one food; let's find an overall diet and lifestyle strategy. I help my patients make themselves a priority so all these things fall into place.
Often we get mothers with breast cancer who are so busy with their family, kids, maybe elderly parents, and are not making enough time for their own diets. This has to happen before any of this other stuff happens.
- Judith Sachs People shouldn't be discouraged about thinking they have to change everything all at once. You don't have to eat only broccoli and turmeric! You can make small changes every week, and still end up with an optimal diet.
- Penny Block Some people find that if they don't go “cold turkey” on junk food they have a problem getting to what they feel is an optimal diet. But other people, as you said Judith, need a plan to get there. But you do need a plan, otherwise you get stuck in transition. That is critical. Think individually about what pace will work for you. Even make a contract with yourself that spells out how you will manage this.
On Wednesday, July 20, 2005, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Buying Healthy Food and Drink. Penny B. Block, M.A., David W. Grotto, R.D., L.D., and moderator Judith Sachs answered your questions about finding, buying, and preparing the healthiest food and drink for people with breast cancer and their families.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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