The pizza and pasta herb oregano could help fight prostate cancer, New York researchers said.
Laboratory tests on prostate cancer cells at Long Island University (LIU) showed that carvacrol, a component of oregano, induces apoptosis -- a process that causes cancer cells to "commit suicide."
Previous research showed that eating pizza may cut down cancer risk, an effect widely attributed to lycopene, the pigment that gives tomatoes their color.
However, the LIU researchers believe their study shows that oregano, a seasoning commonly used in pizza toppings, may play a role.
Study leader Dr. Supriya Bavadekar said, "We know that oregano possesses antibacterial as well as anti-inflammatory properties, but its effects on cancer cells really elevate the spice to the level of a super-spice like turmeric."
Bavadekar added, "A significant advantage is that oregano is commonly used in food and has a 'Generally Recognized as Safe' status in the US. We expect this to translate into a decreased risk of severe toxic effects."
The Experimental Biology conference in San Diego heard that if the study continues to yield positive results, oregano may represent a "very promising therapy for patients with prostate cancer."