Sassafras – Cause Cancer?

Q: I’ve heard that sassafras can cause cancer. Should I pull up all that’s growing in my yard?

A: I wouldn’t pull the plants up unless you have an uncontrolled urge to chew the roots. The harmful component in sassafras is safrole, which has been shown to cause liver cancer in mice. The tree causes no harm in your landscape and is food for many animals plus the spicebush swallowtail butterfly.