Cancer is one of the biggest killers in India, but its effects can be held at bay by a simple change of diet, according to one of the country's leading cancer experts.
A diet rich in fibre, iron and vitamins A, E and K can significantly reduce the incidence of cancer, according to Dr Manoj Sharma, an advisor to the Indian government's Cancer Control Programme and associate professor of Radiotherapy at Maulana Azad Medical College.
Fruits, almonds and sprouted seeds can reduce the synthesis of cancer-causing agents like nitrosoamine, Sharma told The Times of India newspaper.
Fruits and vegetables rich in flavanoids can stop carcinogenic substances binding to the DNA. Onions and garlic can inhibit tumour formation while yellow vegetables and fruits containing retinoids can induce apoptosis (cell death) of abnormal cells, Sharma said.
"The majority of these inhibiting agents are present in the normal Indian vegetarian menu of wheat, barley or maize roti, saag (leafy green vegetables), daal, and vegetable curry, with turmeric powder as an important ingredient in all the recipes," he said.
Sharma claimed that the vegetarian diet rich in fibres was the reason for the low incidence of colon cancer in the Indian rural population compared to the western population.