Could the Cure for Cancer be Found in Chiles?

Posted by: Kelli Bergthold

Chile StethescopeThe much sought after cure for cancer could be heating up. Recent findings from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center suggests that capsaicin, the active chemical compound that gives chile peppers their heat, may reduce and even block chronic inflammation pathways in cancer cells.

In an article posted on MD Anderson’s blog, professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Dr. Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D., points out that, "Symptoms common in cancer patients, such as depression, fatigue, neuropathic pain, metastases and tumor growth, are due to inflammation. By using capsaicin, we can inhibit these things."

While capsaicin has long been linked to boosting metabolism, lowering the risk of ulcers, and reducing muscle pain and inflammation, scientists say its cancer-curing potential has yet to be fully tapped. One problem holding scientists back?

"Chiles are a double-edged sword -- a little bit is good, but too much is bad," Aggarwal says. "Many people's stomachs can't handle red chile."

In a recent Phase III placebo-controlled trial at the Geisinger Clinical Oncology Program in Danville, Pa., many patients experienced discomfort with a topical capsaicin ointment. And while patients in the trial preferred the capsaicin to the placebo as a pain-reliever, the extreme heat of most pepper varieties may prove too hot to handle – for now, at least.

Read the full article from the MD Anderson Cancer Center here.

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