According to U.S. scientists ginger may help to fight ovarian cancer.
Researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have found in a study that ginger kills cancer cells and has the added benefit of stopping the cells from becoming resistant to treatment.
They found the ginger caused the cells to die in all the tests carried out and it was the way in which the cells died which has created the optimism; two types of death were demonstrated in the tests - apoptosis, which is basically cell suicide, and autophagy, a kind of self-digestion.
The researchers used ginger powder, similar to that sold in shops, which they dissolved in a solution and applied to ovarian cancer cells.
It is already known that ginger will ease nausea and control inflammation, but the new findings by the U.S. team offer cancer patients new hope for the future.
Study author Rebecca Liu says that most ovarian cancer patients develop recurrent disease that eventually becomes resistant to standard chemotherapy, which is associated with apoptosis.
Liu says if ginger can cause autophagic cell death in addition to apoptosis, it may circumvent resistance to conventional chemotherapy.
The researchers do warn however that the results are very preliminary and they plan to test whether they can obtain similar results in animal studies.
The researchers say the appeal of ginger was that it would have virtually no side-effects and would be easy to administer as a capsule.
Cancer experts say that previous research has also shown that ginger extract can stop cancer cells growing so it was quite possible that ginger could form the basis of a new drug in the future, but more research was needed to corroborate the findings.
Over 20,000 American women are expected to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year and 15,000 women are expected to die from it.