Washington: A compound derived from cinnamon is a potent inhibitor of colorectal or bowel cancer, a study shows.
The study found that adding cinnamaldehyde, the compound that gives cinnamon its distinctive flavour and smell, to the diet protected mice against colorectal cancer.
The animals' cells had acquired the ability to protect themselves against exposure to a carcinogen through detoxification and repair.
“This is a significant finding,” said Donna Zhang at University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and Cancer Center.
“Because colorectal cancer is aggressive and associated with poor prognoses, there is an urgent need to develop more effective strategies against this disease,” Zhang noted.
Since cinnamon is a common food additive already considered safe -- it's not a synthetic, novel drug -- a study in humans may not be too far off.
The study appeared online in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
The next step in the research is to test whether cinnamon, as opposed to cinnamaldehyde, prevents cancer using this same cancer model.
“Given cinnamon's important status as the third-most-consumed spice in the world, there's relatively little research on its potential health benefits. If we can ascertain the positive effects of cinnamon, we would like to leverage this opportunity to potentially improve the health of people around the globe,” said Georg Wondrak, associate professor at University of Arizona College of Pharmacy.