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The Cinnamon Challenge

Author(s): Christopher Burnett

What are the risks?


In addition to discomfort and irritation, the “Cinnamon Challenge” poses potentially serious health risks, including pneumonia. The greatest danger is the potential for aspirating cellulose fibers in the cinnamon powder. These fibers are bioresistant and biopersistant, meaning that they do not dissolve or biodegrade in the lungs. Studies involving rats indicate that cellulose fibers can damage the lungs and remain present in the lungs for a year or more after exposure.


There are no formal studies on the effects of inhaled cinnamon in humans, but individual cases indicate the risk. At least one teen was hospitalized for a collapsed lung after attempting the “Cinnamon Challenge,” and at least 30 teens required medical attention. Not surprisingly, people with asthma or other broncho-pulmonary diseases, or allergies to cinnamon are at greater risk. For such individuals, the Challenge could prove fatal.