In his $40M laboratory at the University of Montreal, Dr. Richard Beliveau used to test new drugs that may help treat cancer. One day, tugged by children with leukemia who stopped him in the corridor of the hospital to ask if he had something new for them to use, he started experimenting with simple food extracts. Beliveau discovered that many simple food extracts had anticancer properties as powerful as many of the drugs he had been testing for the past 30 years. Lenny, one of his friends, learned that he had pancreatic cancer. His wife begged Beliveau to help her design an anticancer diet. She fed Lenny, every day, three times a day, with foods that all had been tested for their anticancer properties. Lenny lived five years beyond his prognosis.
Today, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, the largest cancer research institution in the world, is also exploring this avenue. Long used in Ayurvedic medicine in India, the common spice turmeric (one of the main spices in curry) has been found to contain the most potent natural anti-inflammatory ever described – the molecule “curcumin”. Researchers at MD Anderson have shown that it inhibits cancer growth by not only reducing inflammation (necessary for invasion of neighboring tissues) but by inducing cancer cell death (“apoptosis”), slowing down the growth of new blood vessels necessary for tumor expansion (“angiogenesis”), and increasing the efficacy of chemotherapy. This research was recently reviewed in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2008).
More here. (Note: I highly recommend the excellent book Anti-Cancer Diet by David Servan-Schreiber.)