Saffron and Cancer


Iranian saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. This spice is used as a food coloring and flavoring agent in a lot of Iranian or foreign foods and drinks so abundant countries (including Iran) cultivate it. There is growing interest in developing many plant-derived substances, including saffron extracts and its components, as cancer therapeutic agents. Although the applications of many of these substances in cancer therapy is still in their early stages, their low toxicity, many years of human intake and broad range of activities on cancer cells make them attractive as potential treatment agents.
For many years Iran’s people used this spite to help or treat some diseases including depression, asthma, premenstrual syndrome and insomnia.
The Saffron contains over 150 compounds, about one-third of which have been identified. Saffron contains three main biologically important compounds. The crocins are unusual water-soluble compounds in the carotenoids category — a class of plant-derived richly colored pigments. Picrocrocin imparts a bitter taste, and safranal, a volatile oil, imparts aroma to saffron.

Saffron and Prevent of Cancer Kinds

Studies of the anti-cancer effects of saffron have been conducted only on experimental models of human cancers, as of September 2011. In such studies, saffron extract was found to alleviate some of the undesirable side effects of other drugs, such as cisplatin, used in cancer treatment, without affecting the anti-tumor action of the drugs. In addition, saffron extracts, or crocin or crocin derivatives, can inhibit the growth of tumor cells and the progression of the cancer while leaving healthy cells unaffected in rodent models of breast, lung and colorectal cancers. The exact mechanism through which saffron exerts anti-cancer effects is not fully understood.