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August 24, 2011 | 2 minute read

Spicy Research for Cancer Prevention

When it comes to diet and cancer prevention, there’s a lot of research involving spices and herbs. It’s not that surprising, given that people have historically used herbs as medicines.

Today’s issue of Cancer Research Update highlights one of the more uncommon spices in the United Sates: saffron. The laboratory study looks at how saffron may help protect against liver cancer. In animal tests, the spice appeared to prevent liver cancer growth.

This is an early study that you can read more about here.

This study gave the rats a lot of saffron: the highest amount was 200 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. (That’s almost 14 grams of saffron for a 150 pound person; and a recipe might call for half a gram.) As with many laboratory studies on cancer prevention, researchers use high amounts of the spice or herb to see the effect.

So while this study is interesting, it’s still preliminary. Add some saffron-dishes to your meals if you want, but it can be one of many herbs and spices you use. Lab studies provide a lot of evidence on why herbs and spices may fight cancer. Many show anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. You can read more about The Role of Herbs and Spices in Cancer Prevention in a paper published in 2007.

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