Love sucking up on a liquorice toffee? This much-popular confectionery flavoured with the root extracts of the liquorice plant,is not just great on the taste buds but may also help prevent bowel cancer.
Bowel cancer is the third most common type after breast and lung cancers.
In the study, which was carried out by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville, Tennessee, scientists targeted an enzyme that is thought to play a crucial role in bowel cancer growth.
"We found that a chemical component of liquorice may offer a new approach to preventing it, without the adverse side effects of other preventative therapies," The Mirror quoted team leader Dr Raymond Harris, as saying.
With the help of glycyrrhizic acid - the main sweet-tasting component of liquorice -researchers blocked the enzyme in mice predisposed to the disease.
They found that this prevented the development of polyps and stopped the progression of cancer.
Liquorice, extracted from the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant from southern Europe and Asia, has been important in Chinese medicine for centuries.
Compounds derived from its root have been shown to fight inflammation, viruses, ulcers, dental decay, eczema and liver cancer.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.