Health Column: Coffee, curry & cancer |

Health Column: Coffee, curry & cancer

Christoper Lepisto, N.D.
Free Press Health Columnist

Two years ago last month, I lost a dear buddy to leukemia. At this point I expect that I will always miss the fellow, but this is not a story about nostalgia. This is an update on what research affects people that have one of the more devastating diagnoses, cancer. This is also going to be good news for those of you who love coffee and curry.

The coffee study was conducted by Melissa Merritt, from Imperial College London (United Kingdom) et all, analyzing 456,000 women with endometrial cancer, enrolled in either the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) or Nurses’ Health Studies (NHS/NHSII). Women who drank more than one cup per day only showed modest benefit, but those women who drank four cups of coffee daily were at 18 percent lower risk of endometrial cancer, quoting “Our findings suggest that coffee intake may be inversely associated with endometrial cancer risk.”

What’s more, coffee showed benefit for patients with breast cancer receiving Tamoxifen; coffee consumption was significantly associated with decreased risk for early detrimental effects of the drug. The anti-oxidant value of the coffee probably explains much of the effects, meaning that it is unlikely to matter whether it contains caffeine. Four cups of coffee daily may be too much buzz for some drinkers.

As I wrote in a 2013 Free Press column, “daily coffee use over several months or more has also been shown to decrease the prevalence of gout, stroke and depression … There is evidence that drinking coffee slows the progression of Hepatitis C and dementia, and also relieves dry eye, amongst other minor benefits not discussed here. It even diminished the risk of overall death in a meta-analysis of over 400,000 people between 1995 and 2008.”

What more do you need to know, coffee lovers?

Now to the curry. This study looked at curcumin (turmeric, which makes curries yellow) for people who have multiple myeloma, a particularly difficult form of bone cancer. The study’s authors, (Gautam Sethi, from Curtin University (Australia), and colleagues) noted the “anti-cancer effects are predominantly mediated through [curcumin’s] negative regulation of various transcription factors, growth factors, inflammatory cytokines, protein kinases, and other oncogenic molecules. It also abrogates proliferation of cancer cells by arresting them at different phases of the cell cycle and/or by inducing their apoptosis.”

Apoptosis is just like it sounds, the cancers cells are “popped” by the immune cells of the body. Because daily Indian diets are the only ones likely to contain the amount of turmeric needed to have this effect, I usually recommend a concentrated supplemental form. The study also reported that doses up to 12 grams per day appear to be non-toxic. Turmeric is a strong but flavorful herb that goes well with many Asian, middle-eastern or Indian dishes. It also gives eggs a nice color and taste.

All human bodies contain cancer cells. The key is a healthy immune system to deal naturally with those cells each time they are discovered. Remember this the next time you sit down with your cup of coffee and your bowl of curry!

Christopher Lepisto, N.D., is a graduate of Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash., and began his practice in New Zealand. As a Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Lepisto believes in an organic and whole-foods diet, plenty of fresh clean water and sunlight, restful sleep, regular exercise, emotional/spiritual health and deep healing through plant medicines. For more information, you can visit or call 970-250-4104.

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