Chances are, this weekend we'll all be making this scrumptious mushroom, fennel, and cherry tomato pizza. So the news of a popular pizza seasoning's cancer-fighting abilities couldn't have come at a better time.
Researchers at Long Island University have discovered that oregano, a spice commonly used to season pizza and pasta, contains an ingredient that could be used to treat prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in US men.
Carvacrol, a component of oregano, causes apoptosis, or "cell suicide," of prostate cancer cells. Lead researcher Dr. Supriya Bavadekar has been testing carvacrol's effects, and says it has demonstrated its cell-killing abilities on the cancer cells.
Oregano has long been touted for its own health benefits, including its antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. It's also a good source of fiber and vitamin K.
The results are promising not only because oregano is already recognized as safe in the US, but also because current treatments for people with prostate cancer, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, have certain complications and side effects. "We expect this to translate into a decreased risk of severe toxic effects," Bavadekar said in a statement.
She notes that testing is in preliminary stages, and researchers are trying to determine exactly how carvacrol causes cancer cell suicide.
Prostate cancer caused 28,170 deaths in the United States in 2012 alone, according to recent statistics released by the National Cancer Institute. So far, there have been 241,740 cases of the cancer diagnosed in men this year.