Head And Neck Cancers: Could A Flower Help Fight Them?

First Posted: Jun 26, 2015 01:04 AM EDT

When we think of fighting cancer, we don't typically think of flowers. Yet new findings published in the journal Oncotarget reveal that magnolias may be helpful, particularly in fighting head and neck cancers.

Magnolia extract has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine to treat anxiety and other conditions. And now, researchers have found that it holds the potential to actually shrink tumors of various types or even prevent them from growing in the first place.

For the study, they focused on squamous cell head and neck cancers, which are typically more common among patients who abuse tobacco and alcohol. In fact, the National Cancer Institute notes that at least 3 in 4 head and neck cancers are caused by the use of tobacco and alcohol, with only a 50 percent survival rate.

They tested honokiol (a compound found in magnolias) on cell lines derived from human cancers of the oral cavity, tongue, larynx and pharynx, and study results revealed that the compound shut down the aberrant cells. It was also tested on tumors implanted in mice, yielding similar results.

"Conclusively, honokiol appears to be an attractive bioactive small molecule phytochemical for the management of head and neck cancer which can be used either alone or in combination with other available therapeutic drugs," said Senior author Dr. Santosh K. Katiyar and his colleagues, in a news release.

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