After finishing cancer treatment, my patients regularly ask me, “what are a few things that I can add to my diet to help prevent my cancer from coming back?” I let them know that they need to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods. In addition, I suggest that they begin to “jazz” up their meals by adding a variety of spices that may help further reduce risk of cancer.

Spices have long been studied for their potential health benefits. Many lab studies have been conducted showing that various spices can help reduce inflammation and lower (cancer) cell growth. While further research is needed, a few spices have been highlighted for their possible cancer fighting potential. One of the most widely studied spices is curcumin. It is one of the main substances found in turmeric, which is the orange spice that is commonly found in Indian curry dishes. For centuries curcumin has been used to treat numerous inflammation-related problems like joint pain and arthritis. More recently, studies have looked at the potential of curcumin to reduce radiation related inflammation and pain. I regularly encourage my patients to use turmeric more often in their cooking. But, it is always recommended that one speak with her doctor first before taking curcumin in a supplement form. Another widely studied spice is garlic! This aromatic spice not only adds wonderful flavor to dishes, it may help lower risk of cancer! Garlic is abundant in phytochemicals and the American Institute for Cancer Research reports that it may help protect against both stomach and colorectal cancer. Black pepper is another spice that is getting positive recognition. It has been reported that one component in black pepper may actually help our body better absorb cancer fighting compounds. Not only does black pepper taste great, but it also may be a helpful way to reduce our risk! So, be sure to tickle your family’s taste buds by adding more spice to their meals.

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