Cancer is a general term for at least 100 or more diseases in which abnormal cells begin to divide uncontrollably, attacking surrounding tissues. From one point of origin, cancer can spread throughout the body via the lymph and blood systems. There are various main cancer types and they are named based on where they start. Carcinoma begins in the tissues that cover the internal organs or the skin. Sarcoma has its origins in muscle, fat, blood vessels, cartilage and other connective tissues.
Leukemia starts in the bone marrow and other blood-forming tissues. Multiple myeloma and lymphoma are cancers of the immune system. Cancer of the spinal cord and brain are called malignancy. All cancer cells have abnormal DNA that does not die but multiplies and attacks the body. Such DNA can be inherited or damaged due to cigarette smoking, exposure to environmental toxins, sun exposure etc. Other than leukemia, cancer cells usually form tumors. Cancer is named based on the point of origin – bladder, breast, lung, prostate, kidney, and thyroid cancer and so on.
Cinnamon for Cancer
Chemoprevention using natural or synthetic agents is growing in popularity as a way to prevent cancer. Cinnamon is a natural chemoprevention agent for it has anti-tumor abilities. One study was conducted on anti-neoplastic abilities of cinnamon in treating cervical cancer. For this, the cinnamaldehyde content in an aqueous cinnamon extract was analyzed. This extract – ACE-c – was measured for its polyphenol content. Cancer cells were treated using ACE-c. It was found that various doses of cinnamon could alter growth of cervical cancer cells. The alternation depended on the specific cinnamon dose. Apoptosis of cervical cancer cells were also observed. Hence, it is believed the cinnamon could be used as a chemopreventive agent in treating cervical cancer.
Patients suffering from cancer are advised to follow a diet rich in antioxidant foods. This can help a person maintain their strength during powerful cancer treatment. Eating small meals high in protein, calories and fiber is suggested. Antioxidant-rich foods include bright colored fruits and vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, honey, fresh spices and herbs such as cinnamon, ginger, cilantro, oregano etc., omega-3 fatty acids and more. Cinnamon and honey can be included in our diet in various ways to improve our immunity.
In vitro studies have found that bee honey tested on mice was able to prevent the escalation of bladder cancer cells. The study is promising and further extensive research is required to examine these claims. Mucositis is a side effect caused by chemotherapy that results in painful inflammation of the membranes which cover the intestinal tract. Research established the fact that honey was able to reduce mucositis caused by chemotherapy in patients suffering from neck and head cancer.
Cinnamon offers diverse bioactive effects. As of now, there is little evidence about its potential as an anti-tumor agent. In vivo and in vitro studies have found that cinnamon could inhibit the progression of melanoma cells. Treatment with cinnamon extract increased cytotoxic activity of cytolytic molecules and this increased CD8-T+ cells’ anti-tumor activities. Hence, it is suggested that cinnamon could be used as an alternative treatment for cancerous tumors.
Cinnamon essential oils – cinnamyl aldehyde and cinnamic aldehyde are said to offer anti-tumor, anti-diabetic, antioxidant, antimicrobial and other benefits. In one study, the effects of cinnamon extract on preventing the activities of pro-inflammatory AP1 and NF-κB were studied in a melanoma model of mice. The study found that cinnamon extracts were able to improve functioning of pro-apoptotic molecules and at the same time inhibit AP1 and NF-κB. Oral cinnamon extracts inhibited proliferation of melanoma cells. This shows that cinnamon extracts could be used to develop anti-tumor medication and be used as an alternative treatment for certain types of cancer.
As a general herbal supplement, the dosage of cinnamon depends on the health, age and other conditions of the user.
Precautions with cinnamon
Consuming cinnamon in food amounts is safe. Cinnamon could interfere with blood sugar levels. Hence, patients requiring surgery should avoid cinnamon. Those who are pregnant and breastfeeding or diabetic must avoid cinnamon. The presence of coumarin in Cassia cinnamon could interact with blood thinning medications such as warfarin, aspirin and NSAIDs. Hence care must be taken when consuming medicinal doses of cassia cinnamon. Excess of this could cause liver toxicity. Exposure to cinnamon could cause bronchial constriction or skin inflammation. Those with skin sensitivity could develop mouth or tongue sores when they come in contact with concentrated cinnamon oil. Cinnamon must be avoided by those with cancer that affects the hormone levels – e.g. breast cancer.
There is no dosage of cinnamon for any specific cancer. Always consult your doctor if you decide to use it for medicinal purposes.