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India is
the second country in the world followed by Bangladesh which consumes the least
amount of meat per capita, at only 4.4 kg per person per year.  70% of the population is vegetarian, which is
often assumed as the norm in India, imposed or encouraged by ideologies of
religion and caste.  In 2012, according
as the WHO GLOBOCAN 2012 database, India experienced 64,000 cases, 49,000
deaths, and 87,000 people with a 5 year prevalence of colorectal cancer whereas
the USA had 134,000 cases, 55,000 deaths and 413,000 people with a 5 year prevalence.

 Cancer rates in India are generally
lower than those seen in Western countries, with rates for colorectal, prostate
and lung cancers being one of the lowest. However, it is important to note that
the diet in India has developed over thousands of years and is based on
religious beliefs, including spices and food additives to encourage good
health.  Examples of these spices are turmeric
(curcumin), cumin and plant seeds. 
Turmeric is popular in indian cuisine and is shown to be an antioxidant and
anti-inflammatory agent which suppresses and destroys blood cancer cells.  It may block the activity of nuclear factor
kappa=B, which is linked to cancer cell growth in many cell types.  There are multiple factors, besides low meat
consumption that can explain India’s low cancer rates.

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Figure
1: N-nitroso compounds (NOC) are made by nitrate and nitirite in meat, which
metabolize to nitrogen oxides and react with secondary animes in the stomach.  NOC can increase colorectal cancer development.  Moreover, heme iron catalyzes the formation
of NOC and reacts with polyunsaturated fatty acids in the gut, which results in
Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS).  This can
damage DNA and disrupt normal cell division. An unbalanced diet and abnormal
gut bacteria are linked to a higher risk for colorectal cancer development
through an increase in gut inflammation. 

 

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