CHICAGO - 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.