I've been exposed lately to a lot of info about cancer. Yes the dreaded big "C"! Never have I interacted deeply before with anyone who has or had it, till now. Like me, many are still in oblivion about it, yes we hear it, read about it, even saw movies about it, but have you talked to someone lately who has it. What could be the words to come out first on your mouth when you hear about a person dealing with cancer? I'm sure you will be struggling for meaningful words to utter, if you do, you might not even say it right. Indeed, the search for the “right” words is futile. There are none.
In my reading and researching, words and terminologies discussing it is like getting to the fine notes of an easy to handle song (that even an out of tune singer could sing it well) but still failing to get it (sintunado pa rin). If you are not a cancer patient or a relative of someone who has it, or a doctor, it is so hard to understand, what more if you are an uneducated person. In reality, when we hear about cancer , most people could connect it instantly to death.
Cancer is largely predictable, the end result of a decades-long process, but just a few simple changes in your daily life can significantly reduce your risk.
Now that we have at least a few earful about it, we can begin with our food. Now that's where I come in.
DISCLAIMER: The writer behind this blog is not a doctor, nor a nutritionist, not even an herbologist. She only relies on book and online research, and old school methods (proven) passed on from her ancestors.
Busy studying for recipes and good reads that give ample suggestions on how to stay healthy while enjoying making the food and of course eating it, I stumbled upon this website, which talked about turmeric (in the Philippines is known to be Luyang Dilaw). Also known as jiang huang, haridra, Indian saffron, and yellow ginger.
The root and root stock, or rhizome, of the plant contain curcumin, which is considered to be the active ingredient.
Here is an account on that website, defending the humble root crop.
Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are compounds often found in plants that can protect the body’s cells from damage caused by activated molecules known as free radicals. Laboratory studies have also shown that curcumin interferes with several important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth, and spread. Researchers have reported that curcumin inhibited the formation of cancer-causing enzymes in rodents.
Recently, curcumin has received a great deal more attention in studies than turmeric as a whole herb. Researchers are studying curcumin to learn whether it is an effective anti-inflammatory agent and whether it holds any promise for cancer prevention or treatment. A number of studies of curcumin have shown promising results. Curcumin can kill cancer cells in laboratory dishes and also slows the growth of the surviving cells. Curcumin has been found to reduce development of several forms of cancer in lab animals and to shrink animal tumors.
Human studies of curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment are in the very early stages. In scientific studies, curcumin does not absorb well from the intestine, so that big doses must be taken for even small amounts to get into the blood circulation. Large doses of curcumin would need to be taken in order to study any effects it might have in the body.
One study of 15 patients with colorectal cancer was done to find out how much curcumin they could safely take, and whether they could take a dose large enough to even be detected in the blood. The patients were able to take 3.6 grams of curcumin without noting ill effects. At this high dose, some curcumin and its products were found in the blood. Lower doses may be enough to directly affect the stomach and intestine. Even though it does not absorb well into the bloodstream, curcumin absorbs into the colon lining and into cancerous tissues in the colon. Small studies have found most people in study groups were able to take up to 10 grams of curcumin per day for a period of a few weeks without noticing problems other than the large volume of pills. There are also studies going on now that try different ways to formulate curcumin so that it absorbs well enough to be tested in humans.
A 2011 study took advantage of the fact that curcumin stays in the intestine rather than absorbing into the blood. Researchers tested it to find out if it could reduce the number of cancer precursors in the colon and rectum. They measured compounds that help promote cancer in rats, did colonoscopies to count abnormal crypt foci (a very early sign that colon cancer may be developing) in biopsy samples, then gave 2 to 4 grams of curcumin a day to 44 smokers. After a month on the curcumin, the researchers did second colonoscopies and biopsies to see if there was a lower concentration of pro-carcinogenic substances in the colon and rectum. The compounds were at the same level as they were before the study. But the smokers who took 4 grams of curcumin a day had fewer abnormal crypt foci after the study, while the smokers who took 2 grams a day had the same number as before. Researchers are still looking at whether curcumin might actually reduce the number of colon and rectum cancers.
Further clinical trials are going on to find out what role, if any, turmeric and curcumin may play in the prevention or treatment of cancer.
Curcumin is being studied to see whether it helps other diseases as well. One small study of curcumin and another antioxidant called quercetin was done in adults who had kidney transplants. Those who took the combination in high dosages had fewer transplant rejections than those who received lower doses or placebo. More studies are needed to find out whether this holds true. Curcumin may also promote the emptying of the gallbladder, but again, more studies are needed.
Early research has suggested that curcumin may help lower "bad" cholesterol, reduce inflammation, help ulcerative colitis, and reduce arthritis symptoms, although more reliable human studies are still needed. Tests of curcumin in HIV disease have been mixed and have generally not shown it to be helpful. In studies of mice, curcumin appeared to help block the plaques and proteins that cause problems in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease. Human studies have already started to look at this.
Although laboratory and animal tests look very promising, careful study is needed to find out whether curcumin will be useful for treating these conditions in humans. It is important to remember that extracted compounds such as curcumin are not the same as the whole herb. Studies that look at a whole herb often show different effects, and the quantity of whole herb needed to produce a certain effect in the body would be greater than for an extract.
Okay, to summarize, it has an element that fights cancer. So I started today!
I went to the market to look for turmeric. Thought of a number of dishes I could use it with, then chose to buy ingredients for my version of Chicken Curry. Also, had in mind kakang-gata as an ingredient that has said to be cancer-fighting as well. Fast-tracking...as a result to all these, reading this blog and masticating it all up in your mind can take more of your time than cooking this, but I guarantee you will love this dish! Actually, my lunch today was the heaviest lunch I had since last week. But had been well-compensated with the amount of anti-oxidants it has.
Turmeric Chicken in Red Curry
1 Kg chicken wings
baby potatoes, peeled or unpeeled
medium sized carrots, cubed
4 TBSP turmeric, peeled and sliced diagonally, thinly
2 TBSP garlic, chopped
5 TBSP red curry paste
3/4 cup Kakang Gata (first pressed coconut milk)
3/4 cup chicken stock or water
1 TBSP olive oil (or vegetable oil)
ginger leaves for decoration
1. Heat olive oil in a pot and saute the turmeric for a few minutes and let it sweat and mix to the oil,
2. Put the garlic and slightly brown it.
3. Put the chicken and let the outer part cook.
4. Pour in the chicken stock or water. Let it boil.
5. Put the red curry paste and the Kakang gata and mix. Simmer.
6. Put the vegetables and let it cook.
7. Season with salt, to your taste. Serve.