During today’s class, which covered whether or not sugary drinks cause people to gain weight, we came to the conclusion that at least for the Amsterdam study, sugary drinks did cause some adolescents to gain weight. This made me think, if these sugary drinks cause weight gain, can other sweet products have any positive effect on people?
After a bit of googling, I found that a key ingredient in licorice, the beloved candy that you often find yourself spending way too much on at the movies, could help prevent cancer.
A recent study performed by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, “showed that inhibiting an enzyme called 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11βHSD2) by treatment with a natural compound found in licorice prevents colorectal cancer progression in mice”( Antiangiogenic Substances…). So to put it in simpler terms, the enzyme that was treated with an ingredient found in licorice was able to prevent a cancer that harms cells in your colon, when tested on mice.
Vanderbilt even went so far as to test polyps to see if the glycyrrhizic acid, found in licorice, would do the same when tested on human colon polyps. Their results stated that the use of the glycyrrhizic acid blocked the enzyme that ends up creating the cancerous polyps found in the colon and kidneys.
So what does this really mean? Will eating Licorice actually prevent the possibility of colon cancer, and should you really worry about preventing it? Due to the fact that this was experimental instead of observational, the researchers tested the acid on the enzyme that causes the cancer, but that also leaves room for third variables to come into play and test its accuracy. I was able to find a few credible sources from this research, and the others seemed to base their information off of those studies, meaning that in those studies, the licorice did seem to prevent the cancer, making it a false positive to leave for the chance of error. Yet, due to the fact there are only two really credible sources from what I have seen (there very well could be more), there is still a very high chance that this outcome could be due to chance, meaning that there is a high possibility that these worked but just due to the circumstances listed in those studies. The American Cancer Society listed that there is a chance that Licorice could be preventative, but that there needs to be more research done in order to determine whether or not the ingredients in the candy will be beneficial at all in prevention.
In all honesty, however, The American Cancer Society says you really don’t have to fret. So many times we hear, “eat this and you’ll prevent your chances of cancer,” but in reality, the risk factors that you can control end up being “physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol use.” Yet so many of the real risk factors prove to be potential third variables that could interfere with the validity of this experiment. These third variables are hereditary and passed down from generation to generation. Based on the results of this study, I say, there’s nothing wrong with having a licorice every once in a while and doing as those on Parks and Recreation do, and…
“Antiangiogenic Substances in Blackberries, Licorice May Aid Cancer Prevention.” The Angiogenesis Foundation. Health On The Net, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.
“Licorice.” Licorice. American Cancer Society, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.