Medical Warning Against Cinnamon Challenge

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Videos of people attempting the Cinnamon Challenge have become an Internet sensation. Typically, a video reveals a group of adolescents watching as someone taking the challenge begins coughing and choking when the spice triggers a severe gag reflex in response to a caustic sensation in the mouth and throat. As of August 10, 2012, there were 51 100 YouTube clips depicting the Cinnamon Challenge.One video was viewed 19 million times, predominantly by 13- to 24-year-olds, ages similar to people taking the Cinnamon Challenge and associated with the greatest need for conformity.

CHICAGO (AP) -- The latest food fad known as the cinnamon challenge involves daring someone to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. The `prize' could end up being a hospital stay.

Doctors warn in a new report that the stunt is dangerous. While a light sprinkle of cinnamon enhances some foods, the spice is caustic. Trying to gulp it down can cause choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs.

Cinnamon is made from tree bark and contains cellulose fibers that don't easily break down. Animal research suggests cinnamon in the lungs can cause scarring.

The report in Pediatrics says at least 30 teens needed medical attention last year. The number of poison control center calls went from 51 in 2011 to 222 last year.

Doctors say people with asthma or other respiratory conditions are at even greater risk.

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