Cinnamon is being widely studied for its potential use in cancer prevention and treatment. It helps in reducing the abnormal growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels in tumors. It appears to be toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death.
In a recent article published in Molecular Carcinogenesis,US scientists have shown that CE(cinnamon extract) therapy results in decreased migration of invasive breast and ovarian cancer cells, followed by reduced levels of protein expression of both VEGF and HIF-1. Besides, significant suppression in the formation of blood vessels and tumor growth was demonstrated following CE treatment in the human ovarian tumor mouse model, which is a fatal malignancy in women.
What is cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a spice extracted from the inner bark of the tree, scientifically known as Cinnamomum. It has been used as a food ingredient across history, dating back to ancient Egypt. It used to be rare and precious, and it was seen as a luxury suited for kings. Nowadays, cinnamon is inexpensive and available in every store. It is used as an ingredient in a variety of foods and recipes.
Cinnamon is obtained by cutting cinnamon tree stems. The inside bark is then extracted, and the woody parts removed. When it dries, it shapes itself as strips that coil into balls, called cinnamon sticks. Such sticks may be grounded to form a cinnamon paste. The distinct smell and taste of cinnamon are due to the presence of an oily component called cinnamaldehyde. Scientists believe that this compound is responsible for most of the beneficial effects of cinnamon on wellbeing and metabolism.
How does it work?
Cinnamon has a long history of being used as a herbal medicine. Laboratory studies have shown that cinnamon has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It has also been known to decrease blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, minimize dental plaque and gingivitis, and boost metabolic syndrome (metabolic diseases that raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes). Topical use of cinnamon based ointment has been tried to help relieve perineal pain and improve episiotomy incision healing in postpartum patients.
Cinnamon is a silver bullet against cancer.
Cancer is characterized by unregulated cell growth. Cinnamon and its uses have been extensively studied for its potential use in preventive care and treatment.
Overall, the evidence is limited to test tubes and animal studies indicating that cinnamon extracts protect against cancer symptoms by reducing the growth of cancer cells and the development of blood vessels in tumors, thus appearing to be toxic to cancer cells. Research in mice with colon cancer symptoms has shown that cinnamon is a potent activator of detoxifying enzymes in the colon that protects against further cancer growth.
Other health benefits of Cinnamon
- Some people are resistant to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance, a characteristic of serious conditions such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Researchers believe that it can significantly reduce insulin resistance, allowing this vital hormone to do its job. By rising insulin sensitivity, cinnamon can improve blood sugar levels.
- Neurodegenerative disorders are a result of a gradual loss of brain cell structure or function. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are two of the most common types of disease. Two compounds found in cinnamon tend to prevent the build-up of a protein called tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. In a test in Parkinson’s disease mice, cinnamon has helped protect nerves, regulated neurotransmitter rates, and enhanced motor function.
- One small lab study suggests that cinnamon may improve the development of collagen, which may help make your skin look younger.
- HIV is an infection that gradually breaks down the immune system, which, if unchecked, will eventually lead to AIDS. Cinnamon, other than Cassia varieties, is thought to help combat HIV-1, the most prevalent form of HIV in humans. Laboratory analysis of HIV-infected cells showed that it was the most effective treatment of all 69 medicinal plants tested. Human studies are needed to validate these results.
What do experts say?
Researchers have once applied cinnamaldehyde to the diet of mice, and they were found to be safe from colon cancer symptoms. In response to cinnamaldehyde, the animal cells had acquired the ability to protect themselves from exposure to carcinogens through detoxification and repair.
“This is an important finding,” says Donna Zhang, Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Arizona. “Since colorectal cancer is aggressive and associated with poor prognosis, there is an immediate need to create more effective strategies against this disease.”
After the finding, the effects of the compound on the Nrf2 receptor and cancer symptoms continued to be investigated. Because the Nrf2 pathway is so essential for cell safety, the new study published online in Cancer Prevention Research suggests that cinnamaldehyde may also shield cells from other forms of chemical carcinogens, UV-induced cancers, and more.
With limited data and research, cinnamon seems to have cancer preventive properties. Further tests are needed to confirm the spice’s potent nature against various types of cancer. However, if recent studies are to be believed then the day is not far off when we can come to a definitive conclusion. In the meantime, with no specific side effects, it can become a part of our daily cooking, and patients can benefit from its therapeutic properties.