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Monday, 10 January, 2000, 14:14 GMT
'Curry is cancer fighter'

Curry and rice: could be healthy

A key ingredient of curries could help prevent or manage colon cancer, according to research being carried out in Leicester.

The news comes just days after cold and flu experts recommended a spicy dish as the perfect antidote to winter sniffles.

Researchers at the oncology department of Leicester University noticed that, out of 500 patients diagnosed with colon cancer, only two were Asian, despite 20% of the city's population being Asian.

They believe that the secret of the Asian community's ability to resist cancer lies in the spice curcumin, which is frequently used in curry cooking.

Professor Will Steward and his team are testing curcumin capsules on colon cancer sufferers to see what effect the spice has on the system.

But they hope that eventually the capsules will be given to healthy people to test their preventive abilities.

Research in the US has already suggested that the spice could block or shrink tumours.

Healthy diet

The work of Will Steward will be discussesd at a cancer conference being held in Leicester on Wednesday.

Cancer Research Campaign director general Professor Gordon McVie, praised curries for containing a higher level of fruit and vegetables, and for the fibre contained in boiled rice.

He said: "The Indians treat vegetables with more restraint than we do - they don't stew them or boil them to death. They also use a lot of tomatoes and garlic which are supposed to have a lot of health benefits."

However, the high-fat, creamy dishes served by many Indian restaurants are not necessarily on the health menu.

Luci Daniels, vice chair of the British Dietetic Association, said: "The typical curries which we eat in restaurants are very different from what Indian families eat at home.

"The traditional diet tends to have more fruit, pulses and vegetables. A lot do not have meat in their diets at all.
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See also:
13 Aug 99 |  Health
Bowel disease drug breakthrough
30 Dec 99 |  Health
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19 Nov 99 |  Medical notes
Bowel cancer

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