Ginger Supplements Might Ease Inflammation Linked to
TUESDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A small, preliminary study
finds that ginger root supplements seem to reduce inflammation in
the intestines -- a potential sign that the pills might reduce the
risk of colon cancer.
However, more study needs to be done, and the researchers aren't
yet recommending that people head to the supplements' aisle or
start gobbling up more ginger at meal times.
"If you want to add ginger to part of a healthy diet, that's great. But you can't make any conclusions about definite health benefits" based on the study findings, said lead author Suzanna M. Zick, a naturopathic physician and research associate professor at University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor.
The study, funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, was
published online Oct. 11 in
Cancer Prevention Research.
Ginger, an herb, is found in supplements and in many foods such
as ginger snaps and Asian dishes. Research has supported its use to
treat stomach problems such as nausea and vomiting; the U.S.
National Library of Medicine says it's "likely safe," although some
people may develop mild side effects.
Previous research in animals has suggested that ginger can
reduce inflammation but isn't potentially toxic to the stomach like
aspirin, Zick noted. And scientists have linked chronic
inflammation in the gut to colon cancer, suggesting that easing
this inflammation could reduce the risk of the disease.
In the new study, Zick's team randomly assigned 30 people to
take pills containing 2 grams of ground ginger root extract or a
"dummy" placebo pill each day for 28 days. They measured the level
of inflammation in the participants' intestines before and after
the test period.
The amount of ginger in the pills is equivalent to 20 grams of
raw ginger root, the authors said. That is probably well beyond
what most people would eat in their regular diet, Zick noted. As
for cost, she said that a month's supply of similar ginger
supplements typically runs about $10 to $30.
The researchers found that the level of inflammation in the
subjects who took the ginger pills fell by an average of 28
percent, while staying about the same in those who took the
If more funding becomes available, the researchers hope to
launch a larger study, Zick said. But for now, she said, "if you
want to embrace ginger because you like the taste, go ahead," but
there's no solid evidence that it prevents colon cancer.
Dr. Andrew Chan, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard
Medical School and a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General
Hospital, Boston, said the findings are promising because they hint
at how ginger may prevent colon cancer.
It's already clear that people with inflammatory conditions such
as irritable bowel syndrome are at higher risk of colon cancer, he
noted. "We know there are anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin that
appear to have anti-cancer properties. And we know there are
certain basic mechanisms which seem to be common to both
inflammation and cancer," he said.
Still, Chan said, "it's much too early to tell whether ginger
has anti-cancer properties."
There's more on ginger at the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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