Can Pizza Prevent Norovirus?

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You may have heard of binging on pizza as a cause of stomach distress, but how about a a cure?

Researchers found that a chemical in oregano called carvacrol causes norovirus to break down in mice, according to a study published today in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.

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“Carvacrol could potentially be used as a food sanitizer and possibly as a surface sanitizer, particularly in conjunction with other antimicrobials,” Dr. Kelly Bright, who led the research at the University of Arizona said in a press release. “We have some work to do to assess its potential but carvacrol has a unique way of attacking the virus, which makes it an interesting prospect.”

Carvacrol, which gives oregano its distinctive flavor, caused the layer of proteins surrounding the vomit-inducing virus to break down. Another antimicrobial would then be able to get into the virus and kill it.

Since carvacrol doesn’t produce any noxious fumes or by-products, it has good potential to be used in sanitizers for schools or hospitals, the researchers noted.

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Oregano has developed a reputation as a super-spice. In 2012, researchers from Long Island University discovered that it may also be used to treat prostate cancer. In that study, researchers found that carvacrol could be used to induce “cell suicide.”

“Some researchers have previously shown that eating pizza may cut down cancer risk,” Dr. Supriya Bavadekar, assistant professor of pharmacology at Long Island University said in a press release. “This effect has been mostly attributed to lycopene, a substance found in tomato sauce, but we now feel that even the oregano seasoning may play a role.”

Photo: Neutrality/Wikimedia Commons