Ginger may kill off ovarian cancer cells and could even form the basis of a new cancer drug, US scientists have claimed.
In tests University of Michigan researchers found ginger not only killed off cancer cells, but also stopped them from becoming resistant to treatment.
The spice is already known to help alleviate nausea and inflammation but now researchers believe it could be used to create a new cancer drug.
Ovarian cancer is the most common gynaecological cancer in British women. In 2002 there were 6,959 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed in the UK.
The research team carried out tests using powdered ginger, which they dissolved and applied to ovarian cancer cells. All of the cells died after being covered in the ginger solution.
Moreover, the team say that the way in which ginger killed off the cells is of great importance.
The ginger caused two types of cell deaths – apoptosis, where the cells essentially kill themselves and autophagy, where they self-digest.
"Most ovarian cancer patients develop recurrent disease that eventually becomes resistant to standard chemotherapy, which is associated with resistance to apoptosis," report author Professor Rebecca Liu said in a statement.
"If ginger can cause autophagic cell death in addition to apoptosis, it may circumvent resistance to conventional chemotherapy."
The presented the findings to a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.