What if I told you that there is a scent that may kill bladder cancer tumors? You’d probably think it was something straight out of a science fiction novel or movie. But, reality truly is stranger than fiction, and the adage seems particularly true of cancer. According to recent research in the medical journal Frontiers in Physiology, bladder cancer tumors have olfactory (scent) receptors. In other words, they smell things. Yes, you read that right. It’s hard to imagine cancer having a sense of smell, but this new discovery helps us to better understand the dreaded disease so many face.
According to the American Cancer Society, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer among men but is less common among women. It estimates that there will be over 81,000 new cases of cancer in the United States this year alone. Sadly, the society estimates that over 17,000 people will die this year from bladder cancer. The disease primarily affects people over the age of 55. Ninety percent of people with bladder cancer are over 55 but the average age of diagnosis is 73.
Not only did the researchers discover that bladder cancer tumors smell things but they also learned that the tumors don’t seem to like the scent of sandalwood. When bladder cancer comes in contact with the compounds found in sandalwood, known as sandranol and santanol, they divide less frequently. Cancer tumors depend on cell division to grow so reducing the frequency of cell division means less tumor growth.
The scientists also found that when the bladder cancer came in contact with the sandalwood compounds they moved less. It’s unclear what effect that will have on the cancer but it suggests that there may mean less likelihood of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body, which is known as metastasizing.
While the research on the use of sandalwood and its scent in the treatment of bladder cancer is in its infancy, it suggests that the plant holds promise for the many sufferers of the disease. However, other research found that sandalwood has anti-cancer properties. In a study published in Anticancer Research, scientists found that it had anti-cancer properties against both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, as well as prostate and breast cancer.
Sandalwood essential oil has also been found to have potent anti-inflammatory activity, which may also be beneficial for cancer since the disease has also been linked to inflammation. In a study published in the medical journal Phytotherapy Research, scientists found that it had anti-inflammatory activity comparable to ibuprofen when used for skin inflammation.
Sandalwood is primarily available in essential oil form. It can be applied directly to the skin. Always conduct a skin sensitivity test first by applying a drop of the oil to the inside of a wrist or other place and waiting 72 hours to determine whether there is any sensitivity to the oil. It is best applied to the skin in a diluted form, using coconut or other carrier oil for this purpose. The oil can also be diffused in a diffuser. Add 8 to 10 drops of pure sandalwood essential oil that has been sustainably harvested, in a diffuser and follow the diffuser instructions. Diffuse for up to an hour at a time.