THURSDAY, Sept. 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Early diet may play an important role in protecting against childhood leukemia, according to new Loyola University Medical Center research.
Rates of childhood leukemia in Asia are much lower than in Western countries, according to Loyola researchers, who say this may be due in part to the protective effect of turmeric, a spice that's common in Asian cooking.
"Some of the known risk factors that contribute to the high incidence of childhood leukemia are the interaction of many lifestyle and environmental factors," Loyola professor Moolky Nagabhushan said in a prepared statement.
"These include prenatal or postnatal exposure to radiation, benzene, environmental pollutants and alkylating chemotherapeutic drugs. Our studies show that turmeric -- and its coloring principle, curcumin -- in the diet mitigate the effects of some of these risk factors," Nagabhushan said.
The research was presented Sept. 9 in London at a conference on childhood leukemia.
Another study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found regular consumption of oranges and/or bananas during the first two years of life was associated with a reduced risk of childhood leukemia.
That association is believed to be due to the high vitamin and mineral content of both oranges and bananas.
The Nemours Foundation has more about childhood leukemia.