Attempting the "cinnamon challenge"—a long-running online fad in which people try to swallow a dry spoonful of cinnamon powder—is an even worse idea than it may first appear, a new study warns. Researchers using data from tests on animals found that lungs became inflamed after exposure to cinnamon. In some cases, scarring on the lungs resulted, making the "challenge" especially dangerous for young people with conditions such as asthma, the Chicago Tribune reports.
"Anyone who tries to swallow a tablespoon of dry cinnamon, when they choke on it, it not only goes down their food pipe ... they also breathe in and some of this powder goes in to their airway" and could get drawn into the lungs, says the lead researcher, who decided to investigate the issue after hearing about the challenge from his kids. At least 30 people, including some teens with collapsed lungs, needed medical treatment after trying the challenge last year and researchers believe the dozens of calls to poison centers about misuse of cinnamon could be just the tip of the iceberg, USA Today reports.