Doctors decry 'Cinnamon Challenge,' say dare is dangerous

TULSA - A popular online dare is receiving lots of attention, especially from the medical community.

The "Cinnamon Challenge" involves ingesting a spoonful of cinnamon in 60 seconds without any water.  There is even a website and Facebook page dedicated to trying it.

Type in Cinnamon Challenge on YouTube and you'll find roughly 30,000 videos of people coughing, choking and gagging.

That's nothing compared to what happened to Dejah Reed, a Michigan teen whose right lung collapsed after she tried the challenge.

"I was laughing and it got caught in my throat," said Reed. "I just couldn't breathe at all. It almost killed me that night."

Dr. Todd Hoffman at Saint John Medical Center says swallowing large amounts of cinnamon is nearly impossible because there's not enough saliva in the human mouth to absorb it.

"It takes that away from us and you wind up with a concretion of the substance in your mouth and you're at risk of choking," said Hoffman.

The cellulose in the cinnamon can also cause damage to the airways, says Hoffman, and cause an asthma attack, burning of the lungs and possibly lead to pneumonia.

Cinnamon Dangers - Interactive Map

247 Tulsa is the youth group for Victory Christian Center in Tulsa. Video of a recent summer camp was posted on 247 Tulsa's public Facebook page June 12 of several kids trying the Cinnamon Challenge. The youth pastor, John Daugherty, can be heard encouraging participation and encouraging others to watch, even when one of the students apparently vomits.

We attempted to contact Daugherty and the head church pastor several times. 2News also showed up at a youth meeting where he declined comment.

In an email, Daugherty writes, "I'm grateful that you came over last night to the youth building to meet me. As I said last night, we choose not to comment on the matter."  

The video has since been pulled from the site.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, from January to March of this year, the Cinnamon Challenge has lead to 139 calls to poison control. Thirty people needed medical help.               

"It's kind of a cruel game for the person taking the challenge, but they take it willingly," said Tama Sawyer, of the University of Kansas Poison Control.

Doctors say parents should talk to their kids about the potential dangers, because when it comes to the challenge, the cinnamon spice is anything but nice.

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