Turmeric, a plant rhizome that is often dried, ground and used as a cooking spice, has also been used medicinally for several thousand years. Curcumin, the phytochemical that gives turmeric its golden color, is responsible for most of the therapeutic effects of turmeric. In recent years curcumin has been studied for its effects on chronic diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, and cancer. Though many researchers are investigating turmeric/curcumin in cancer therapy, there is little epidemiologic information on the effects of turmeric consumption. With limited availability of pharmacologic interventions in many areas of the world, use of turmeric in the diet may help to alleviate some of the disease burden through prevention. Here we provide a brief overview of turmeric consumption in different parts of the world, cancer rates in those regions, possible biochemical mechanisms by which turmeric acts and practical recommendations based on the information available.