By Dr. Crystal Foster, CBSDFW.COM

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Some doctors believe that Americans would be healthier if we ate the way that they do in India, where certain types of cancer are almost nonexistent. Once spice in particular, used in many Indian dishes, could actually be the key to beating cancer. But it might not be a preferred option for people in North Texas, where steaks and burgers are more than just meals, they’re tradition.

“Excessive intake of red meat may put you at higher risk of getting colon cancer,” said Dr. Ajay Goel from Baylor Medical Center at Dallas. “U.S. is one of the leading countries in terms of colon cancer rates and incidences. But on the other end, if you look at India, they have the lowest amount of colon cancer incidences.”

What are people in India, and other Asian countries, doing that the United States is not? In addition to limiting red meat intake, Goel said that the Indian people eat certain spices and herbs that are loaded with cancer-fighting agents. “All of these herbs, or superfoods, have polyphenols in them, which have been shown to have cancer preventative properties,” Goel explained.

Colon cancer has been linked to increased levels of inflammation and stress in the digestive tract. By adding spices like garlic, ginger, thyme, sage and even peppermint to your diet, Goel said, you can drastically cut your risk. “People in that part of the world have been consuming certain spices in their food,” Goel said, “and there has been evidence that some of these spices are strong anti-inflammatories.”

Goel studied the effects of one particular spice — curcumin — which is used in most Indian dishes. Curcumin can not only help prevent colon cancer, but it can also benefit patients already diagnosed with any form of cancer, Goel said. “When they’re consumed in conjunction with chemotherapy, they can help facilitate the effects of chemotherapy,” Goel explained.

Antioxidant-rich foods — like blueberries, cranberries and pomegranate — are also proven to help fight against colon cancer. Sunflower seeds, fish and mushrooms are high in selenium, which can not only stop colon cancer from growing, but research shows that it can even kill off colon cancer. And drinking teas with ginseng can also help lower your cancer risk. “I think diet is a big part when it comes to colon cancer,” Goel said.

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