December 25, 2011
Great news just in time for Christmas: Arab scientists from the United Arab Emirates have located anti-cancer compounds in the much loved and expensive spice saffron. Known for centuries as a home remedy, the research project led by Professor Amr Amin from the United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, found that saffron is able to suppress a large variety of cancer compounds. This news reported in the journal Hepetology, puts saffron in the ranks of cancer fighter along with another much-loved Asian spice, tumeric.
In the experiment on saffron, the researchers found that saffron is able to boost compounds in the body to help the body fight off cancer.”We are excited to learn more about the molecular aspects of how saffron works, we are strong believers that an immediate clinical trial [testing saffron in liver cancer patients] will benefit a wide spectrum of cancer patients not only in the UAE but worldwide as well,” Amin told the Gulf News.
The experiment used rats who were given liver cancer. A control group did not receive saffron, while an experimental group did. Seventy-five percent of the rats in the control group developed cancer, versus 16% in the saffron group which did not. Those rats that got the highest doses of saffron did not develop cancer nodules at all.
The researcher believes that the molecules in saffron can also fight off a range of cancers, and they are planning on revealing more research in this direction soon.
In the journal the researchers concluded: “This study provides evidence that saffron exerts a significant chemopreventive effect against liver cancer through inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis. This report also shows some evidence that saffron protects rat liver from cancer via modulating oxidative damage and suppressing inflammatory response.”
Saffron, one of the most expensive spices on the market, comes from the stamen of the saffron flower. It is used in Arab and Central Asian cuisine, but its cancer-fighting properties have only been tested recently. Amin believes that it can also fightdepression, inflammation and memory loss.