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Slaying prostate cancer with saffron

New Italian research suggests the spice may contain compounds that may help give hope to those with prostate issues.

Saffron’s been used in traditional medicine for more than 3,000 years, as everything from an aphrodisiac to an antidote to poison. Could it hold the key to fighting the second-leading cause of cancer death in America?

An Italian study suggests compounds found in the golden-orange spice may help give hope to those with prostate cancer.

The study focused on crocins, a carotenoid found in saffron, Crocus sativus L., and a compound our gastrointestinal tract produces after we eat saffron, called crocetin esters. Italian researchers found both had cancer-fighting powers in cancer cell cultures and in mice with prostate cancer.

“Saffron and its ingredients could be considered as a promising candidate for clinical anticancer trials in aggressive prostate cancer with a high risk of metastases,” wrote the study's authors in the journal BioMed Research International. The research was noted on

This study comes after research last year pointed to the possibilities of using vitamin A to prevent and treat the diseases. That research, conducted in the U.K., suggested vitamin A switches on genes that halt the spread of cancer cells and could be used to enhance clinical treatments of prostate cancer. The research was published in Oncogenesis.

Another study published last year in Cancer Prevention Research suggested that tomatoes and soy may be a powerful, prostate cancer-fighting combo when consumed together. Research from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences found that mice fed both foods had significantly less instances of prostate cancer, even though the critters used in the study were genetically engineered to easily develop the disease.

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