Like pizza and pasta? You’ll love the findings of a surprising new study by Long Island University researchers that indicate a key ingredient in oregano may be a potent weapon against prostate cancer cells.
The study, presented at the Experimental Biology 2012 scientific sessions in San Diego this week, found the compound carvacrol -- a constituent of the common Italian seasoning herb – kills prostate cancer tumors by inducing programmed “cell death,” known as apoptsis.
"We know that oregano possesses anti-bacterial as well as anti-inflammatory properties, but its effects on cancer cells really elevate the spice to the level of a super-spice like turmeric," said lead researcher Dr. Supriya Bavadekar, of LIU's Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Although the study’s findings are preliminary, she said the initial results suggest “a huge potential” for using carvacrol as an anti-cancer agent.
"A significant advantage is that oregano is commonly used in food and has a 'Generally Recognized As Safe' status in the U.S.,” she said. “We expect this to translate into a decreased risk of severe toxic effects."
Past research has found eating pizza may reduce the risk of developing cancer. But most health experts have suspected lycopene -- a substance found in tomato sauce – to be the likely culprit.
“But we now feel that even the oregano seasoning may play a role," said Bavadekar. "If the study continues to yield positive results, this super-spice may represent a very promising therapy for patients with prostate cancer."