In 1971 Richard Nixon launched the “war on cancer” with a promise for a cure for a major cancer by the bicentennial 1976. We are now over a half century and roughly $250 billion spent at the National Cancer Institute with no cures for any major cancer and a rising cancer incidence among Americans. Today 42% of Americans will develop cancer in their lifetime with 24% of all deaths caused by cancer. A career oncologist and researcher at the NCI, Dr. Guy Faguet has written a book THE WAR ON CANCER: ANATOMY OF A FAILURE. The researchers kept looking for a “biological response modifier” (BRM) or some equivalent to antibiotics that can cure some bacterial infections. They have yet to find a BRM for cancer. But nature has given us many BRMs that are available at your grocery and health food store. There are many nutrition factors that can prevent and even slow down cancer growth. Today, we discuss one of those humble heroes: ginger.
Ginger is in the same family of plants that includes turmeric and cardamom, both potent herbs that also can help prevent cancer. There are many studies that show that there is a beneficial link between ginger and cancer and that ginger fights cancer. Ginger is widely used in cooking. Ginger is more than food or spice, it is considered both fruit and vegetable, and ginger has anti cancer properties.
Ginger is an aromatic and spicy rhizome that is a darling of Asian cuisine used in many types of dishes including stir fries. The underground stem has a brownish skin and yellow or whitish flesh depending on the variety. However, ginger is not exclusively consumed in food.
Ginger in Cancer Treatment
This tuber has been put to therapeutic use for thousands of years for various conditions including indigestion, colds, arthritis, headaches, swelling and cardiovascular problems. In addition to these common ailments, ginger has been found to have great promise in fighting cancer.
But how is this possible when effective treatment for cancer has proved to be so elusive? How can ginger fight cancer?
The fight against cancer can be challenging but many studies show that ginger has many anti cancer benefits. Ginger can help in the fight against breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and other cancers.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is the name given to the condition in which some cells in the body get out of control and start dividing at a faster rate than normal. The result is that these cells end up forming an abnormal growth of new alien tissue which should not be there. This growth is known as a tumor and there is no known specific cause.
Studies have shown that there are conditions in the body that are conducive to the development of cancer. These conditions include chronic inflammation and excess oxidation within body tissues. Poor food and drink choices, chemicals, radiation and other toxic elements contribute to the increase in cancer.
Damaged DNA Forms Cancerous Tumors
Abnormal growth that forms cancerous tumors occurs when cell DNA is damaged which causes the cells to divide at a faster rate than they should. This abnormal division does not occur in case only a small number of cells are damaged because the immune system can deal with these. However, when body cells are continuously exposed to irritation (chronic inflammation, oxidation, etc) the immune system cannot cope with destroying all the damaged cells. This leads to overgrowth of abnormal cells into tumors.
The danger of cancerous tumors is that they keep spreading such that they interfere with the surrounding tissues and even spread to other parts of the body. The growth is possible because new blood vessels grow to supply the cancerous cells with blood. Besides, once the DNA is damaged, the cells are no longer programmed to die at some point. This is not the case with healthy cells which die off after a certain period of existence or once they are damaged.
Ginger Fights Cancer
Having looked at what cancer is and how it arises and grows, it is apparent that it can be fought in two main ways: removing the causative irritant or fighting the irritation. Ginger helps maintain a strong immune system by preventing, reducing or stopping the inflammation or oxidation.
Many studies indicate that ginger is effective in destroying cells in different types of cancer including breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer .
Ginger for Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed type of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality among females worldwide.
A recent study produced results that demonstrate that shogaols have an inhibitory effect on cancer cell invasion. Known naturally occurring agents such as resveratrol, quercetin , curcumin, as well as gingerol (a major pungent constituent in ginger) have been demonstrated to exert effects against cancer cell invasion.
Ginger and Lung Cancer
A study showed the anti-proliferative and apoptosis-mediated cytotoxic effects of green tea and ginger polyphenolic extracts on human H460 cell line, indicating their promising chemo-preventive effect against lung cancer
Some of the studies even indicate that ginger could be more effective at beating cancer than chemotherapy. But how does it accomplish this?
Ginger and Cancer
Evidence continues to accumulate that ginger can prevent and possibly reverse cancer. Compounds in ginger target the cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected. This is different for chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments which destroy both cancerous and non-cancerous cells.
Ginger contains many compounds including minerals like magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese and sodium; vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E; phytochemicals like gingerols, paradols, shogaols. Collectively these ingredients provide ginger with more than 40 beneficial health properties, including fighting inflammation, oxidation and cancer. These properties are both preventive and curative as indicated by studies like this one and others. These studies show that ginger extract inhibits and stops growth of cancerous cells by about 56 percent. Ginger contains several compounds that have shown activity against cancer.
A laboratory study at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, found that ginger can cause the death of cancer cells. Based on laboratory tests, researchers estimate that consuming 100 milligrams of ginger extract (approximately 100 grams of fresh ginger for a person of average weight) daily can offer effective treatment against cancer.
Ginger works by impairing reproduction of cancer cells and also induces death of the cells. This would mean that consuming ginger can offer some protection against cancer. It can also reduce the multiplication of cancerous cells.
Add to a Healthy Diet
Add ginger to enhance a healthy lifestyle. Recognized as a healthier fruit and vegetable, ginger will improve your general health and aid in the fight against cancer. Simple ways to incorporate ginger into your diet:
- Add Fresh Ginger: Add minced or grated ginger to a plate of vegetables or side dishes.
- Add Cooked Ginger: Mix with other spices such as nutmeg, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon and pepper and onions. Add to your favorite dish.
- Salad Dressing: Combine grated ginger, olive oil and garlic.
- Ginger Tea: add thin slices of ginger to hot water; let it stand for about 30 minutes. Squeeze juice from slices of lemon into the tea, stir and drink. You may also add some honey if you like it sweet.
- Add fresh grated ginger to side dishes, etc.
Ginger is a Powerful Medicinal Food
Research conducted on the effects of ginger on cancer cells indicate that this humble rhizome has the ability to defeat cancer. As a known effective medicinal food, make ginger a regular ingredient in your diet. Unlike conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, compounds in ginger target the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact. Besides being an anti-cancer agent, ginger has many other health benefits. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties helps many ailments including arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease.