10/10/2013 06:38 BST | Updated 10/10/2013 06:40 BST

Skin Cancer Treatment: Liquorice Root May Fight Malignant Melanoma


A compound found in liquorice root may be key to fighting malignant melanoma.

The discovery, made by experts at the University of Minnesota, slowed the growth of skin cancer cells and blocks proteins needed for cell development.

This is not the first time that the root - found in southern Europe and Asia- has been linked to cancer prevention.

But according to the MailOnline, glycyrrhizin - the chemical that has formed the basis of previous cancer-prevention studies - has multiple side-effects.


Liquorice plant

The American Cancer Society warns: "Whole-herb licorice can cause an imbalance of fluid and the mineral potassium in the body, which can lead to heart rhythm problems, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, and even paralysis."

But no experts have set their sights on another liquorice chemical: Isoangustone A, which is believed to reap the same rewards, without side-effects.

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Photo gallery Signs Of Skin Cancer See Gallery

"Liquorice root is known to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects," scientists report in journal Cancer Prevention Research. "We found Isoangustone A suppressed the proliferation of human melanoma cells and provides the basis for the potential development of a new agent."

Malignant Melanoma Death Rate '70% Higher In Men'

According to the NHS, melanoma is relatively rare, but it is becoming more common. There are currently almost 13,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the UK.

Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in people aged 15-34 and is also responsible for most skin cancer deaths. More than 2,000 people die every year in the UK due to melanoma.