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Crocetin, a carotenoid isolated from the spice saffron, has been found to be effective in treating certain types of cancer treatable with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA).

ATRA, however, is a potent teratogen, and the possibility that crocetin may also be a teratogen becomes an important medical issue.

The teratogenic potential of crocetin and ATRA were evaluated in frog (Xenopus) embryos.

The data show that crocetin is a teratogen, but far less potent than ATRA.

This suggests that crocetin may be a safer alternative to treat ATRA-sensitive cancers in women of childbearing age.

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Evaluation of the Developmental Toxicity of Crocetin on Xenopus