Is medicinal tree bark the next big cancer prevention strategy? Research says yes
(NaturalNews) Researchers at the University of Arizona(UA) College of Pharmacy and the UA Cancer Center recently discovered that a derivative found in cinnamon called cinnamaldehyde, which gives cinnamon its unique smell and taste, acts as a potent protective agent against colorectal cancer.
“Given cinnamon’s important status as the third-most-consumed spice in the world,” Dr. Georg Wondrak explained, “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.”
Dr. Wondrak and Dr. Donna Zhang’s study, “Nrf2-Dependent Suppression of Azoxymethane/Dextrane Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colon Carcinogenesis by the Cinnamon-Derived Dietary Factor Cinnamaldehyde” demonstrated that by simply adding cinnamaldehyde to their food, the mice were protected from colorectal cancer.
Cinnamaldehyde bolstered the animals’ cells enabling them to “protect themselves against exposure to a carcinogen through detoxification and repair.”
“This is a significant finding,” said Dr. Zhang, who along with Dr. Wondrak, is a member of the UA 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.”
Future research will focus on whether whole cinnamon, not merely the pure isolated compound cinnamaldehyde, can prevent cancer using the cancer model employed with mice. Because cinnamon has been safely added to food for thousands of years, a human study shouldn’t be far off.
Dr. Wondrak further questions if cinnamaldehyde or cinnamon can be used against other diseases, such asinflammatory dysregulation and diabetes.
Previous cinnamon cancer research
A 2005 study published by researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Maryland made a rather astounding discovery. The popular kitchen spice cinnamon acts as a medicine that can kill cancer cells.
In the USDA cinnamon study the researchers used a water-soluble, powdered extract of cinnamon bark, which they injected into growing cancer cell cultures.
Typically for such studies, scientists utilize cell lines that are either actual cancer cells properly maintained for laboratory use, or they create cancer cells via various chemicals, radiation or viruses.
For this study three types of human cancer cells were used: Two leukemia and one lymphoma cell line. Leukemia presents as a proliferation of malignant blood cells called leukocytes whereas lymphoma is the malignant onslaught of lymphocytes a type of lymph cell.
The rationale behind the study was to determine if the cinnamon extract could halt the progression of these cancer cells in vitro (petri dish) and if so exactly how it was accomplished.
The USDA study results
(1) The cinnamon extract effectively reduced the proliferation rate of all three types of cancer cells over a 24-hour time span, which is the time necessary for one doubling of the cell population.
(2) The higher the dose of cinnamon extract the greater the reduction in cell proliferation.
(3) The highest cinnamon concentration resulted in about a 50 percent reduction in cell proliferation compared to the control group.
Cinnamon extract contains water soluble, insulin mimicking compounds called procyanidins (type A). It also contains MHCP (methylhydroxychalcone polymer), another water soluble compound which was postulated to be the causative factor behind cinnamon’s ability to mimic insulin. Both are polyphenols.
There are literally thousands of plant polyphenols that have a plethora of beneficial actions as antioxidants and the ability to inhibit or stimulate enzymes that control cellular differentiation, proliferation, and death, which may confer protection against cancer.
The fact that cinnamon seems to be beneficial for both diabetes and cancer begs the question: Is there a hidden link between diabetes and cancer?