Is it possible that a potential cancer-preventing agent is sitting on your spice rack? According to an article recently published in Experimental Biology and Medicine, the answer may be “yes.”1
In this new article, a scientist from Mexico reviewed the prior test tube and animal studies using saffron as either a cancer preventive or cancer treatment. He found that saffron not only inhibited the formation of new cancers, but in many different types of studies it shrunk existing tumors. In addition, the saffron at times appeared to enhance the anticancer effect of chemotherapy.
The author concluded that the effects of saffron may have been at least partially due to its high content of molecules called carotenoids. Many prior studies have looked at the role of carotenoids, particularly lycopene and beta-carotene, as cancer-preventive and cancer-treatment agents.
Does this mean that we should all start taking saffron to prevent cancer? Probably not. As the author is quick to point out, due to the difficulty of growing and harvesting saffron, supplies are limited and expensive.
This new report contributes more evidence that some foods and spices contain various compounds that appear to have cancer-fighting abilities. For example, rosemary has been shown to prevent breast cancer in animal studies.2 Turmeric is also proposed to have some cancer-preventive benefits.3 In addition, studies suggest that consumption of liberal amounts of fruits and vegetables (particularly cruciferous vegetables) may help prevent some forms of cancer.
1. Abdullaev FI. Cancer chemopreventive and tumoricidal properties of saffron (Crocus sativus L.). Exp Biol Med 2002;227:20–5
2. Singletary KW, Nelshoppen JM. Inhibition of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced mammary tumorigenesis and of in vivo formation of mammary DMBA-DNA adducts by rosemary extract. Cancer Lett 1991;60:169–75.
3. Huang MT, Newmark HL, Frenkel K. Inhibitory effects of curcumin on tumorigenesis in mice. J Cell Biochem Suppl 1997;27:26–34.
Matt Brignall, ND, is in practice at the Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center and at the Evergreen Integrative Medicine Clinic in Kirkland, WA. He specializes in integrative treatment of cancer. He is a contributor to Healthnotes and Healthnotes Newswire.
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