The Cinnamon Challenge has posed it’s threats in the past, but now new research reports it can result in “long-lasting lesions, scarring and inflammation of the airway” or even lung damage, says the paper, in the April issue of Pediatrics, published online today.
“What we were discovering was that it wasn’t just that this was a dare prompted by peer pressure, but in fact there were acute health issues associated with it and there might be some real concerns for more chronic health issues,” said Dr. Steven Lipshultz, a co-author on the study from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Although the immediate physical effects like coughing, choking and burning of the mouth, nose, and throat, are temporary in most cases, the Cinnamon Challenge attempting to swallow a large quantity of the spice may result in more serious health issues in the long-term.
For teens and young adults with underlying lung diseases such as asthma, ingesting large quantities of dry cinnamon has the potential to pose significant and unnecessary health risks, says study author Steven Lipshultz, professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “It could really put them in a bad way,” he says.
Another worry is that, if a person doing the Cinnamon Challenge throws up, which they often do, vomit will be inhaled back into the lungs. That could lead to inflammation and infection known as aspiration pneumonia.
While there are no human studies of the Cinnamon Challenge inhalation, studies in animals have shown that lungs immediately become inflamed after a single exposure and still show signs of damage within weeks, even months later, says Lipshultz. “In humans, that would be the equivalent of an elderly person developing emphysema and needing oxygen.”
Cinnamon is composed of cellulose fibers that do not break down if they enter the lungs, according to Lipshultz. No one knows if Cinnamon Challenge takers face any risk of long-term lung damage, but there is evidence of immediate risks.
“Given the allure of social media, peer pressure, and a trendy new fad, pediatricians and parents have a ‘challenge’ of their own in counseling tweens and teens regarding the sensibilities of the choices they make and the potential health risks of this dare,” they concluded.
“I think the cinnamon challenge is something that has been around for some time, however I don’t think we’ve really appreciated what the potential medical implications may be,” commented Kent Pinkerton, PhD, director of the University of California Davis Center for Health and the Environment.
‘Cinnamon Challenge’ Dangers
The “Cinnamon Challenge.” It’s all the rage on the internet. And it seems not only harmless, but funny too. But the innocent-sounding challenge has serious health risks especially for children.