‘Cinnamon Challenge’ Could Trigger Lasting Lung Damage

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Swallowing a tablespoon of the dry spice on a dare could lead to serious health problems, according to the latest report on the practice.

The so-called cinnamon challenge went viral in 2012 as over 50,000 video clips of people attempting to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon in under 60 seconds popped up on YouTube — along with the inevitable gagging, coughing and misery of the unsuccessful dares. Excessive amounts of cinnamon, as the teens in the videos now know, can cause burning and inflammation of sensitive tissues in the mouth, nose and throat, and led to a spike in calls to poison-control centers. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reported that in the first three months of 2012, these centers received 139 calls for cinnamon abuse, 122 of which were related to the cinnamon challenge. Thirty of those people required immediate medical attention.

(MORE: Cinnamon Challenge, Popular With Teens, Proves Risky)

Now a new study published in the journal Pediatrics details more health harms related to the dare. The latest data, the authors of the study say, showed that 222 calls came in to poison centers in 2012 related to the stunt, compared with 51 calls in 2011. Some teens were treated for collapsed lungs and required ventilators after attempting the challenge.

When swallowed by the tablespoon, powdered cinnamon coats and dries out the mouth, making swallowing difficult. Cinnamon also contains a substance called cellulose that can stick in the lungs and compromise their ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. The study authors acknowledge that while these effects are usually temporary, people who have asthma or more delicate lungs could be at greater risk of more serious breathing problems if they try the stunt. “The cellulose doesn’t break down,” Dr. Steven Lipshultz, one of the authors of the study from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine said to the New York Times. “So when it gets into the lungs it sits there long term, and if it’s coated with this caustic cinnamon oil, that leads to chronic inflammation and eventually scarring of the lungs, something we call pulmonary fibrosis. Getting scarring in the lungs is equivalent to getting emphysema.”

(MORE: The Choking Game: 1 in 7 College Students Has Tried It, Texas Study Finds)

In TIME’s coverage of the spike in poison-center calls related to the cinnamon challenge, officials of the AAPCC warned of the some of the more serious hazards of the stunt:

‘Teens who engage in this activity often choke and vomit, injuring their mouths, throats and lungs,’ said Dr. Alvin Bronstein, managing and medical director for the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, in the AAPCC statement. ‘Teens who unintentionally breathe the cinnamon into their lungs also risk getting pneumonia as a result.’

The report should raise the alarm for pediatricians who need to be aware of the potential dangers of the dare, Dr. Stephen Pont, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics told ABC News. He said the study is “a call to arms to parents and doctors to be aware of things like the cinnamon challenge” and urged parents and doctors to talk to their kids about the risks.

20 comments
JessicaGottlieb
JessicaGottlieb

Am I the only person on earth who actually READ the study? 

Time says: "Thirty of those people required immediate medical attention." the study says "and ∼30 (17%) required medical attention" There was NO EMERGENT NEED for medical attention indicated. 


According to Time: "Some teens were treated for collapsed lungs and required ventilators after attempting the challenge." 
According to the study: there is a news report of one asthmatic child who suffered a collapsed lung. 

The title of this "news story" ought to be Asthmatic Teens Should Only Breathe Air. 



Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@JessicaGottlieb 


The point is to dissuade people from a pointless challenge that may hurt you..... after all how many actually complete the challenge.

GunterDose
GunterDose

Those facts are known its just idiotic to post this in the news waste of space while so much things more important are going around the world to be dealing with than wasting time on people that do stupid things like these.

StevenHovey
StevenHovey like.author.displayName 1 Like

Time to ban cinnamon.  Obama appoints cinnabon CEO as lead spokesperson against cinnamon abuse.  Clip at 11.

PhilSmith
PhilSmith

Have you read the labels of extracts for the alcohol content?

Minors can get about 1 shot of alcohol from each bottle.

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@PhilSmith 


WTF are you talking about.... a bottle of cinnamon powder does not contain alcohol... it is well know hobos drink vanilla and mouth wash but this is about POWDERED CINNAMON.

LT66
LT66

America's Funniest Videos aired a video of this last year on their show.  Guess they thought it was funny?

ALinc1
ALinc1

Try to drink a gallon of milk in one hour.  I bet you can't do it.

EdGarr
EdGarr

As the world's population continues to sky rocket, please allow survival of the fittest to do it's job.

JohnCleary
JohnCleary

OMG WHY IS THIS THE FIRST OF HEARING OF THIS?!?!!? I HAVE TO TRY THIS!!!!!!!!!

oh wait.

mallorysr
mallorysr

Time to have a Congressional Committee examine the threat and start the process of banning cinnamon!!  'Nuff said.

LaurieK
LaurieK

This is not a "new trend".  My kids first heard about it in 2006-2007 while we lived in a rural area in Nevada state.

brettochampion
brettochampion like.author.displayName 1 Like

Okay. So what were the 17 people doing who had a cinnamon abuse issue not related to the cinnamon challenge?

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@brettochampion 


Please try and define "cinnamon abuse" and wtf that actually means and does for the user.... as far as I know you can eat all the cinnamon you like.... apposed to huffing gasoline fumes which some have a problem with with obvious reasons to steer clear while highlighting the "positive effects" abusers were going for.

Jebus
Jebus like.author.displayName 1 Like

"Hey guys lets eat something because we saw someone on the internet do it."


^^Gene pool weeding itself.


DuaneDoneckerad
DuaneDoneckerad

 Please parents do some research and learn about the different fads children and teens are into, you don't have to "spy" to know what they may be doing. Read about what teens are up to, using this article as an example, then talk to your children about it.

HockeyChick
HockeyChick

People are really this stupid? I thought it was like the "eat a stick of butter" challenge where everyone says they did it but no one actually did.

ClaireMier
ClaireMier

Did I just read about this somewhere? NY Times? This seems really alarming if I have seen the same story on two different news websites in one day.