Chemical found in popular sweet can help fight ‘silent killer’ pancreatic cancer, study finds

A chemical found in licorice could help fight pancreatic cancer, according to a study.

Researchers found that isoliquiritigenin can suppress the disease, which kills around 9,000 people in the UK each year.

A chemical found in licorice may help fight pancreatic cancer, according to a study


A chemical found in licorice may help fight pancreatic cancer, according to a studyPhoto credit: Getty
Around 9,000 people die from pancreatic cancer in the UK each year


Around 9,000 people die from pancreatic cancer in the UK each yearPhoto credit: Getty

It could pave the way for new and improved treatments with fewer side effects and ultimately help save lives, scientists said.

A team from Hong Kong Baptist University studied the compound’s effectiveness in mice.

They found that isoliquiritigenin reduced cancer cell survival by up to 80 percent and enhanced the effects of drugs commonly used to treat the disease.

Just 30 mg/kg of isoliquiritigenin reduced tumor size to about the same level as in patients treated with the conventional chemotherapy drug gemcitabine.

And it caused far fewer side effects. The rodents did not experience significant weight loss or a drop in red and white blood cell counts as seen with gemcitabine.

Taken together, however, cancer cells were suppressed by at least 18 percent — meaning the combination of the two chemicals could be even more beneficial.

Joshua Ko Ka-Shun, an associate professor who led the study, which was published in the journal Phytomedicine and presented at the 2023 European Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in Turin, Italy, said: “This compound is open for further development to consider.” a new generation of chemotherapy.

“[Pancreatic cancer] is difficult to recognize and is usually only discovered at a late stage because there are not many treatment options available. Therefore, there is an urgent need to find an appropriate treatment.

“Isoliquiritigenin has the unique property of inhibiting the progression of pancreatic cancer by blocking autophagy, a natural process by which the body’s cells shed damaged or unnecessary components.

“The late-stage blockade of autophagy in our experiment leads to death from cancer.”

He said he hopes to see isoliquiritigenin use in humans within 10 years.

Pancreatic cancer is the tenth most common form of the disease in the UK.

About 10,449 new cases are diagnosed each year, with 9,000 deaths, according to the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK.

Because the disease often produces no symptoms, it is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer.” However, according to the NHS, you may experience the following signs:

  • The whites of your eyes or skin turn yellow (jaundice) and you may also have itchy skin, darker urine and paler stools than usual
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss without trying
  • Feel tired or lack energy
  • High temperature, flushing or chills
  • Feeling sick or being sick
  • diarrhea or constipation or other changes in your stool
  • Pain in the upper part of your abdomen and back, which may get worse when you eat or lie down and get better when you bend over
  • Symptoms of indigestion such as B. a feeling of fullness

Having these problems doesn’t mean you have cancer, but it’s important to get checked out by your GP.

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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