Prostate cancer cells destroyed by the common herb Oregano

OreganoOregano has long been known to possess a variety of beneficial health effects. Now, a new study by researchers at LIU Pharmacy indicates that an ingredient of this Pizza spice could potentially be used to treat prostate cancer, a leading cause of cancer death in men.

“We know that oregano possesses anti-bacterial as well as anti-inflammatory properties, but its effects on cancer cells can really elevate the spice to the level of a super-spice, like turmeric,” said Dr. Supriya Bavadekar, assistant professor of pharmacology at LIU Pharmacy (Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences). Dr. Bavadekar is studying the effects of carvacrol, a constituent of oregano, on prostate cancer cells.

“We tested carvacrol in various concentrations and for different time periods against human prostate cancer cells and were excited to see the complete inhibition of cancer cells,” said Dr. Bavadekar.

She said current treatment options for prostate cancer patients include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy and immune therapy, most of which are associated with considerable complications and adverse effects.

The results of her study demonstrate that the compound induces apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. Apoptosis, Dr. Bavadekar explained, is programmed cell death, or simply “cell suicide.” Dr. Bavadekar and her graduate students, Bhushan Patel and Vichiksha Shah, are trying to determine the signalling pathways that the compound employs to bring about cancer cell suicide.

Though the study is in its preliminary stage, she believes the initial data indicates a huge potential in terms of carvacrol’s use as an anti-cancer agent.

“If the study continues to yield positive results, this super-spice may represent a very promising therapy for patients with prostate cancer,” stated Dr. Bavadekar. “I also want to explore the possibility of other anti-tumour effects of this compound.”