By Fiona Macrae
PUBLISHED: 14:34 EST, 24 April 2012 | UPDATED: 17:44 EST, 24 April 2012
It may not be the most obvious of health foods, but pizza could be good for you, research suggests.
Scientists have found that oregano, a seasoning commonly used in pizza and other Italian food, has the potential to become a powerful weapon against prostate cancer.
A medicine inspired by it could have fewer side-effects than existing treatments, which can cause problems from incontinence to impotence.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in British men, affecting 37,000 a year and killing more than 10,000.
Researchers from Long Island University, New York, studied carvacrol, a chemical in oregano. Added to prostate cancer cells in the lab, it rapidly wiped them out.
Left for four days, almost all the cells were killed, the Experimental Biology conference in San Diego heard.
Tests showed it triggered the cells to kill themselves.
The oregano chemical could now be used itself as a treatment against cancer, or as the blueprint for an even more powerful drug.
Experts warned, though, that when oregano is eaten, it could be that carvacrol is digested before it can do any good.
Researcher Supriya Bavadekar, a pharmacologist, said: ‘Some researchers have previously shown that eating pizza may cut down cancer risk.
‘This effect has been mostly attributed to lycopene, a substance found in tomato sauce, but we now feel that even the oregano seasoning may play role.’
Lycopene, the pigment that gives tomatoes their read colour is credited with a host of health benefits, including warding off cancer and cutting the risk of heart disease.
Dr Bavadekar said: ‘If the study continues to yield positive results, this super-spice may present a very promising therapy for patients with prostate cancer.
‘A significant advantage is that oregano is commonly used in food. We expect this to translate into a decreased risk of severe toxic effects.
‘But this study is at a very preliminary stage and further experiments need to be conducted to get a better idea of uses in the clinic.’
Possibilities include using carvacrol itself or using it as the blueprint for an even more powerful treatment.
Others stressed that it is too early for men to start stocking up on pizza.
Margaret Rayman, a Surrey University professor of nutritional medicine who has compiled a cookbook of recipes designed to keep prostate cancer at bay said that much more work needs to be done.
For instance, any oregano-inspired treatment would have to be much less harmful to healthy cells than cancerous ones.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2134602/Eating-pizza-really-good-Oregano-seasoning-powerful-weapon-prostate-cancer.html#ixzz1t19wSsuQ