The benefits or oregano (past its use on pizza) have been published in a study by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The spice may actually eliminate prostate cancer cells.
The cancer-fighting effects of carvacrol, found in oregano is what was tested with prostate cancer.
Oregano has been studied quite a bit, said Supriya Bavadekar, assistant professor of Pharmacology at Long Island University's Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and lead investigator of the study. There are so many beneficial effects such as antibacterial properties and anti-inflammatory properties. There is also some literature that shows this compound has some effects against breast cancer and other cancer cells. But nobody knows how it's working and it hasn't been tested on prostate cancer.
Bavadekar's team is still testing carvacrol, but the first round of reports have shown that the compound may be extremely potent in the killing of cancer. It eliminated most of the prostate cancer cells it was tested on.
We used various concentrations of this drug and we were happy to see that caused complete inhibition of cell growth, Bavadekar said. We did these experiments in three different time periods 24 hours, 48 hours and 96 hours. The drug produced almost 100 percent inhibition, but it was the most potent at the 96 hour period. We are hoping that tells us something about how it may be acting.
The team has deduced that carvacrol stimulates apoptosis or cell suicide in the prostate cancer cells. These initial results provide significant insight into the power of oregano. Bavadekar's team is hard at work to figure out how the compound triggers this programmatic "cell suicide."
The really challenging part is to find out how this is working, Bavadekar said. ?So it's causing these cells to commit suicide, but how is this signal being passed on to result in apoptosis? What are the components in the prostate cancer cells that contribute to the cells death? It's about understanding the mechanism of action.
Learning why carvacrol may effectively work against prostate cancer could very likely have a significant impact on the future of cancer drugs, research, and hopefully one day, complete elimination. The American Cancer Society says that prostate cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death for men in the U.S., with more than 240,000 new cases predicted to arise in 2012 alone.
If you are suffering from prostate cancer, options may range from radiation therapy to surgeries. But if Bavadekar's team is able to understand carvacrol's anti-cancer properties better, they could potentially help in developing less intense cancer therapy and have you buying some oregano.
We have to remember that this is from oregano which is considered to be a safe food component, Bavadekar said. So we're hoping this translates into a drug with lesser adverse effects in patients. The conventional chemotherapy has all of those really horrible side effects, many of them severe. We're thinking this compound could be used by itself or in combination with other agents.
Bavadekar remains very optimistic about what all they will uncover in their study. If it destroys prostate cancer cells, can it destroy types of cancerous cells? We don't yet know for certain but in the meantime you may want to sprinkle a little extra oregano on your pizza and lasagna.