Saffron crocus

New research has shown effectiveness of the spice saffron to protect against the development of liver cancer, published in the latest issue of Hepatology.

Study researchers based at the United Arab Emirates University found reduced cancer cell proliferation, as well as a significant reduction in the number of liver modules among the study recipients receiving the highest dose of saffron.

“With limited treatment options, approaches that prevent cancer development are among the best strategies to protect against the disease,” said lead study researcher, Professor Amr Amin from United Arab Emirates University. “Our findings suggest that saffron provides an anti-cancer protective effect by promoting cell death (apoptosis), inhibiting proliferation of cancerous cells, and blocking inflammation.”

Liver cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths and the fifth most common cancer in the world. According to Amin, diethylnitrosamine (DEN), which is found in cigarette smoke, cosmetics and household cleaning products, gasoline, and processed foods including dairy and meat products, is one of the most significant environmental carcinogens that is linked to liver cancer.

First noted in Asian texts from 7th century BC, saffron is the world’s most expensive spice by weight. Collected from the stigmas of crocus flowers it is used in a number of foods around the world and has been revered for health benefits for thousands of years including relieving symptoms of PMS, treating depression and contributing to weight loss. Recent research has also shown it to play a role in relieving mild Alzheimer’s symptoms, as well as having immune boosting properties and a protective effect on the heart.

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