Ginger is a medicinal herb from tropical Asia. It has many healthful properties, including, possibly, cancer prevention. Turmeric is a popular Indian spice. It being studied for its potential cancer-fighting properties. Garlic is a hardy perennial herb of the onion family. It has been used as a medicinal agent for thousands of years by many cultures. Ginger, turmeric and garlic are sold in the market as juice and supplements. If you want to use any of these medicinal plants, consult with your doctor first.
Some pungent constituents present in ginger exhibit cancer preventive activity in experimental carcinogenesis. W. Tuntiwechapikul and colleagues of Chiang Mai University in Thailand found that gingerol, a phenolic alkanone isolated from ginger, inhibits the expression of the human telomerase reverse transcriptase, or hTERT, gene, which constitutes a key step in cellular immortalization and carcinogenesis.
In laboratory studies, curcumin, a naturally occurring dietary polyphenolic phytochemical in turmeric, exhibits significant chemopreventive activity for colon cancer, reports Oregon State University. Curcumin appears to exert its anticarcinogenic properties by interfering with the cell cycle and by apoptosis induction in colon carcinoma cells. The alleged anti-tumor effects of turmeric need to be evaluated in human trials.
Many epidemiological studies support the protective role of garlic against the development of certain human cancers. The organo-sulfur compounds found in garlic, especially allicin, have strong antioxidant properties and thus can protect against DNA damage caused by reactive oxygen species, or free radicals. Numerous studies have reported that oxidative DNA damage is an independent risk factor for cancer, according to the University of California, San Diego.
Turmeric is generally safe for most people. But it can sometimes cause stomach upset and ulcers. Garlic prevents the formation of blood clots. Therefore, patients with blood disorders such as hemophilia and bleeding ulcers should not consume garlic in large amounts. Ginger is likely safe when used in medicinal amounts. However, ginger may lead to side effects such as nausea, diarrhea and heartburn when taken in excessive doses.