Pizza and Prostate Cancer: Unlikely Bedfellows

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If you like oregano in your pasta sauce and on your pizza, you may want to start using this popular seasoning herb even more. A new study by investigators at Long Island University (LIU) suggests oregano contains an ingredient that could also be a potential treatment for prostate cancer.

Oregano has been valued for medicinal purposes for centuries, but it is only in more recent years that scientists have identified some of its potentially beneficial ingredients, namely carvacrol and thymol. These substances are believed to have potent antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties.

Several previous studies have suggested oregano has some anticancer benefits, and this latest research supports that idea. According to Dr. Supriya Bavadekar, PhD, RPh, assistant professor of pharmacology at LIU’s Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, her ongoing testing of carvacrol indicates the oregano ingredient prompts apoptosis (cell death, or cell suicide) in prostate cancer cells.

Dr. Bavadekar’s findings, which were presented at the Experimental Biology 2012 poster session on April 24, show that oregano’s “effects on cancer cells really elevate the spice to the level of a super-spice like turmeric,” noted Bavadekar. “If the study continues to yield positive results, this super-spice may represent a very promising therapy for patients with prostate cancer.”

It is much too early to determine how much oregano may be beneficial for fighting prostate cancer. However, oregano is a commonly used food, is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), and can be used to flavor a wide variety of foods, from pasta sauces to vegetables, soups, pizzas, salads, beans, and whole grains. You can also get oregano in supplements.

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.


Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Component of pizza seasoning herb oregano kills prostate cancer cells. News release 2012 Apr 17. Article 588182

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