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The spice saffron is commonly used in dishes like paella to provide a golden color and an earthy, sweet flavor. Now, researchers believe that the spice may also have antioxidant properties strong enough to help fight cancer.
In a mouse model, a team of scientists from the United Arab Emirates University tested the effects of 75 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg), 150 mg/kg and 300 mg/kg of saffron on rodents that had carcinogen-induced liver lesions.
The researchers observed that all saffron doses were effective in reducing the number of liver nodules, but mice that received the highest amount of the spice exhibited a complete cessation of nodule formation.
"With limited treatment options, approaches that prevent cancer development are among the best strategies to protect against the disease," said researcher Amr Amin. "Our findings suggest that saffron provides an anti-cancer protective effect by promoting cell death (apoptosis), inhibiting proliferation of cancerous cells, and blocking inflammation."
Previous studies have suggested that saffron has significant antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.