Licorice may be a promising cancer treatment, researchers say

Licorice is more than a candy and may play a role in preventing or treating certain types of cancer, according to researchers.

[Apr 7, 2022: Jacqueline Carey, University of Illinois Chicago]

Licorice plant Glycyrrhiza glabra. (CREDIT: Petr Kocna)

Licorice is more than a candy people either love or hate — it may play a role in preventing or treating certain types of cancer, according to researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Gnanasekar Munirathinam and his research team are studying substances derived from the licorice plant Glycyrrhiza glabra to determine if they could be used to prevent or stop the growth of prostate cancer. Munirathinam is an associate professor in the department of biomedical sciences at the College of Medicine Rockford.

A research review into molecular insights of a licorice-derived substance called glycyrrhizin for preventing or treating cancer conducted by Dr. Munirathinam and student researchers suggests further research could lead to specific agents for clinical use.

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“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,” Munirathinam said. “More research is needed into exactly how these could best be used to develop therapies, but this appears to be a promising area of cancer research.”

Should everyone go out and eat a bunch of licorice? Probably not, because it may affect blood pressure, interact with certain medications, and cause serious adverse effects, including death, when used excessively. An occasional sweet treat of licorice candy or tea may be better options until more studies can show how to best harness the plant’s benefits.

“Very few clinical trials in humans have been conducted,” Munirathinam said. “We hope our research on prostate cancer cells advances the science to the point where therapies can be translated to help prevent or even cure prostate and other types of cancer.”

Licorice root. (CREDIT: Susanne Hillmer on Pixabay)

College of Medicine Rockford students Rifika Jain, Mohamed Ali Hussein, Preksha Shahagadkar, Shannon Pierce and Chad Martens are co-authors of the review, which was partly supported by the National Institutes of Health (R0CA227218) and Brovember Inc.

For more science and technology news stories check out our New Discoveries section at The Brighter Side of News.

Note: Materials provided above by University of Illinois Chicago. Content may be edited for style and length.

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Tags: #New_Discoveries, #Plants, #Licorice, #Prostate, #Cancer, #Research, #Science, #Medical_Good_News, #The_Brighter_Side_of_News

Joseph Shavit
Joseph ShavitSpace, Technology and Medical News Writer
Joseph Shavit is the head science news writer with a passion for communicating complex scientific discoveries to a broad audience. With a strong background in both science, business, product management, media leadership and entrepreneurship, Joseph possesses the unique ability to bridge the gap between business and technology, making intricate scientific concepts accessible and engaging to readers of all backgrounds.