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Cinnamon May Fight Colorectal Cancer: Compound Inhibits Cancer in Mice

First Posted: Jun 15, 2015 10:17 AM EDT

There may be a new way to fight cancer: cinnamon. Scientists have found that a compound derived from cinnamon may be an inhibitor of colorectal cancer in mice.

In this latest study, the researchers examined cinnamaldehyde, a compound that gives cinnamon its distinctive flavor and smell. They added this compound to the diet of mice. In the end, they found that this compound protected the mice against colorectal cancer. In fact, in response to cinnamaldehyde, the animals' cells had acquired the ability to protect themselves against exposure to carcinogen through detoxification and repair.

"This is a significant finding," said Donna Zhang, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Because colorectal cancer is aggressive and associated with poor prognoses, there is an urgent need to develop more effective strategies against this disease."

Cinnamon is the third-most-consumed spice in the world. However, relatively little research has been conducted on its health benefits. Now, researchers know that a compound in cinnamon could be key to developing a treatment for colorectal cancer.

The next step for the researchers is to test whether cinnamon, as opposed to cinnamaldehyde, prevents cancer by using their same cancer model. Because cinnamon is a common food additive already, it could mean that a human study may not be far off.

"Can cinnamon do it, now that we know pure cinnamaldehyde can?" said Georg Wondrak, one of the researchers. "And can we use cinnamaldehyde or cinnamon as a weapon to go after other major diseases, such as inflammatory dysregulation and diabetes? These are big questions to which we might be able to provide encouraging answers using a very common spice."

The findings are published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

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