Licorice candy, with its distinct, almost bitter flavour profile, is a treat that most people either love or despise. A new study finds that, like medicine, it may be best to grin and bear the taste — because licorice root may be beneficial to your health. Despite its divisive flavour, researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago believe licorice could one day help prevent and even treat certain types of cancer.
Gnanasekar Munirathinam, an associate professor in the department of biomedical sciences at the College of Medicine Rockford, discovered these astounding results while researching substances derived from the licorice plant Glycyrrhiza glabra. Prof. Munirathinam and his team were focusing on the effect of licorice on prostate cancer at the time.
According to a university release, “When we look at the research out there and our own data, it appears that glycyrrhizin and its derivative glycyrrhetinic acid have great potential as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents.” “More research is needed to determine exactly how these could be used to develop therapies,” the researchers say, “but this appears to be a promising area of cancer research.”
“There have been very few human clinical trials,” Prof. Munirathinam concludes. “We hope that our work on prostate cancer cells advances science to the point where therapies can be developed to help prevent or even cure prostate and other types of cancer.”
The findings have been published in the journal Pharmacological Research.