Cinnamon prevents cancer from developing

It has been known for a few years that several spices contain exceptional quantities of anti-cancer molecules and could therefore participate in the prevention of cancer. In addition to the well-known role of turmeric and ginger in this preventive effect, cinnamon could also help reduce tumor growth by blocking the formation of new vessels through the process of angiogenesis.

Originally from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), cinnamon has been appreciated for millennia for its unique taste and its invigorating properties. She played a key role in establishing the spice market linking East and West. Its value was such that for a long time it was considered more valuable than gold.

This spice is actually the inner bark of the cinnamon tree (Cinnamonum verum), a shrub of the laurel family. To harvest cinnamon, the bark of young shoots is detached from the branch, forming shavings that curl up on themselves into thin sticks as they dry. The best quality cinnamon comes from the Ceylon cinnamon tree which has a pale yellow brown bark, a strongly fragrant smell and a very aromatic taste.

Polyphenols that fight against oxidative stress

Cinnamon has one of the strongest antioxidant activities of any plant world, a property that is largely linked to its exceptional content of certain complex polyphenols called proanthocyanidins. Pound for pound, the amount of these polyphenols is 25 times greater than that found in wild blueberries.

Given the protective role of these polyphenols against damage caused by oxidative stress, it is likely that the strong antioxidant activity of cinnamon may exert positive health effects.

Prevent cancer from growing

A cancer cannot progress without being adequately nourished by a network of blood vessels which can transport the elements essential to its growth. This phenomenon, called angiogenesis, is caused by chemical signals secreted by cancer cells that irresistibly attract cells from nearby blood vessels to them.

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Several research works carried out in recent years in our laboratory have shown that certain food molecules, in particular delphinidin from blueberries, EGCG from green tea or even ellagic acid from strawberries, have the ability to prevent the formation of these new vessels by specifically blocking the activity of VEGFR-2, a protein essential for angiogenesis.

Since all cancers are absolutely dependent on this blood supply, these molecules could therefore play a crucial role in cancer prevention.

Work published by a group of American researchers suggests that cinnamon could also have preventive properties through its ability to block angiogenesis.

Researchers have shown that at low doses, an extract of this spice inactivates VEGFR-2, thereby blocking the formation of new blood vessels induced by tumours. This effect is not caused by cinnamaldehyde, the molecule responsible for the aroma of cinnamon, but rather by a group of proanthocyanidins found in large amounts in the spice. It therefore seems that, in addition to exerting strong antioxidant activity and thus neutralizing the harmful effects of free radicals, these molecules could also participate directly in the prevention of cancer by blocking angiogenesis.

The discovery of cinnamon’s anti-angiogenic properties illustrates once again how the plant world harbors an infinite variety of molecules with beneficial effects on human health. However, cinnamon loses its fragrance very quickly when it is powdered; if you want to add it to your dishes, use sticks that you can reduce to powder using a grater.


(Lu et al. Novel angiogenesis inhibitory activity in cinnamon extract blocks VEGFR2 kinase and downstream signaling. Carcinogenesis. 31: 481-488.

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