Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in the world and concerning figures published by Cancer Research UK show that the number of cancer diagnoses per year is rising. For example since 1975 the number of reported cases of cancer in the UK has increased by 35% from around 295 per 100,000 to almost 400 per 100,000 in 2011. Happily though the survival rate for cancer is falling; in 1975 there were 215 deaths per 100,000 people compared to only 170 cases per 100,000 in 2011. And recent research shows that rosemary may be able to help this figure fall even lower.
Much of the research is still in its early stages; however there have already been some encouraging results which have looked at the effects of some of the active ingredients found in rosemary essential oil on cancer cells. These active ingredients include antioxidants such as carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid and other bioactive compounds including camphor, caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, rosmaridiphenol, and rosmanol.
So far studies have been limited to assessing the effects of compounds found in rosemary essential oil on artificially created cancer cells in petri dishes and on those in animals, however further studies will hopefully expound on some of the below results:
- Huang et al. 1994 found that the topical application of rosemary oil blocked the initiation and promotion of induced skin tumorigenesis (the process by which normal cells are transformed into cancer cells). The study also found that the topical application of pure carnosol and ursolic acid also inhibited induced skin tumour promotion in mice.
- Singletary, MacDonald, and Wallig 1996 found that adding rosemary or carnosol retards induced mammary cancer in rats.
- Rosemary extracts and the active compounds carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid have been found to inhibit the proliferation of a number of other human cancer cell lines, including lung cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer and breast cancer (Yesil-Celiktas et al. 2010).
Anecdotal evidence for the efficacy of rosemary against cancer can also be found by looking at the cancer rates of areas whose diet is naturally high in rosemary, such as the Mediterranean, compared to those who eat less of the herb. It has been noted that cancer rates in these areas are often significantly lower than in other countries. For example the rate of cancer incidence in Greece is only 51% of that in the USA (GLOBOCAN 2012 data).
OBVIOUSLY FURTHER STUDY INTO THE USE OF ROSEMARY TO FIGHT CANCER IS NEEDED AND WE ALWAYS RECOMMEND FOLLOWING PROSCRIBED MEDICAL ADVICE REGARDING ANY AILMENTS.