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Spicy Foods To Battle Cancer

Submitted by Loring A. Windblad on December 30, 2009

Benefits Of Spicy Foods For Fighting Cancer

Most cancers develop slowly, except for cancers in children that affect the growing tissues of the brain or bones due to defective genes inherited from one or both the parents. In adults, cancers are due mostly due to inherited mutations or mutations that occur during their lifetime. This may be due to exposure to environmental chemicals that damage DNA, the blue print of life. These molecules that damage DNA can be produced in the body itself. For instance, molecules that contain oxygen acquire a special chemical structure that enables them to interact with the DNA.

It is here that spices come to play a role in preventing and fighting cancer.

The antioxidant properties found in natural foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, and spices hunt out free radicals and protect the cells from damaging the DNA excessively. Spices especially inhibit the enzymes which are a part of the pre-cancer metabolism.

Research has found that consuming spices can help fight cancer.

Spicy foods aid in killing many tumors. Capsaicin, an ingredient in jalapeno peppers, is found to effectively kill cancer cells. It attacks the mitochondria, which are the cells energy builders.

The family of molecules present in it, called vanilloids, bind to the proteins in the cancer cell’s mitochondria and triggers the cell’s death or apoptosis. It also does not harm the neighboring healthy cells. This is chiefly because the biochemistry of the mitochondria in normal cells is very different from those in cancer cells.

Capsaicin does not cause apoptosis in normal cells and attacks only the vulnerable cancer cells. Hence, a diet which includes spices and contains vanilloids and capsaicin is very useful in fighting cancer. In fact this property of certain spices has also lead to the development of anti-mitochondrial drugs that can treat cancer.

Plants have the capacity to synthesize a diverse range of chemicals due to the presence of phytochemicals in them. These compounds attract beneficial organisms and repel the harmful ones. They have complementary and overlapping actions that make them antioxidant and anti-mutagenic, modulate detoxifying enzymes, and induce apoptotic activities. This adds to the growing body of evidence that the incorporation of spices in every day diet is beneficial to health and also helps prevent or fight cancer.

Spices and herbs contain a wide range of active phytochemicals like flavnoids, terpenoids, lignans, polyphenolics, carotenoids, sulphides, coumarins, saponins, and pthalides which are anti- carcinogenic.
Spices and herbs such as basil, mint, thyme, turmeric, ginger, celery, chervil, cilantro, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, and chillies are rich in these phytochemicals and can help fight various types of cancer.

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