Measurement of spices and seasonings in India: Opportunities for cancer epidemiology and prevention

Leah M. Ferrucci, Carrie R. Daniel, Kavita Kapur, Puneet Chadha, Hemali Shetty, Barry I. Graubard, Preethi S. George, Whitney Osborne, Susan Yurgalevitch, Niveditha Devasenapathy, Nilanjan Chatterjee, Dorairaj Prabhakaran, Prakash C. Gupta, Aleyamma Mathew, Rashmi Sinha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Bioactive components of many foods added during cooking have potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial and chemopreventive properties. However, epidemiologic studies generally do not collect detailed information on these items, which include spices, chilies, coconuts, garlic, onions, and oils. Since India has some of the highest spice consumption in the world, we developed a computer-based food preparer questionnaire to estimate per capita consumption of 19 spices, chilies, coconuts, garlic, onions, and 13 cooking oils among 3,625 participants in the India Health Study, a multicenter pilot study in three regions of India. We observed notable regional differences in consumption of spices, chilies, coconut, garlic, and onions. In Trivandrum, over 95 percent of the participants consumed 12 different spices, while in New Delhi and Mumbai, 95 percent of participants consumed only four and five spices, respectively. Cooking oil use also varied, as ghee was most common in New Delhi (96.8%) followed by mustard seed oil (78.0%), while in Trivandrum the primary oil was coconut (88.5%) and in Mumbai it was peanut (68.5%). There was some variation in consumption by education, income, and religion. Using a novel method for assessing food items primarly added during cooking, we successfully estimated per capita consumption within an epidemiologic study. Based on basic science research and suggestive ecologic level data on cancer incidence and spice consumption, improving epidemiologic assessment of these potentially chemopreventive food items may enhance our understanding of diet and cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1621-1629
Number of pages9
JournalAsian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer prevention
  • Cooking oils
  • Diet
  • India
  • Spices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Cancer Research


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