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Spicy Food Can Speed Up Occurrence of Cancer: Study

Posted September. 07, 2010 11:12,   


Capsaicin, the active component of spicy peppers, could hasten the occurrence of cancer, a Konkuk University research team said Monday.

Lee Ki-won, a professor at the university’s bioscience and biotechnology department, said, “Prolonged intake of spicy peppers such as Cheongyang pepper (a very spicy pepper in Korea) could cause cancer because of possible inflammation of normal cells. In this case, cancer that normally occurs from the age of 60 could arise at age 40.”

His study is featured on the front page of the latest issue of Cancer Research magazine.

The team conducted experiments on the impact of capsaicin on the normal cells of mice, and found that the compound activates the protein EGFR, which causes inflammation and cancer. Researchers said the mice used in the experiment got skin cancer.

“It proved the belief that too much spicy food is not good for health. It’s better not to eat too much spicy food to prevent cancer,” Lee said.

The professor, however, said chili peppers themselves do not cause cancer. “Hot peppers contain a lot of vitamin C and have many beneficial ingredients such as polyphenol and carotenoid. But Koreans are used to spiciness, so an excessive amount of hot peppers could cause problems.”

In response, Oh Woo-taek, a pharmacy professor at Seoul National University, warned against misinterpretation of the study, saying, “Some in academia claim that chili peppers suppress the outbreak of cancer.”

Researchers at Nottingham University in England said in an international journal that tests showed that capsaicin combines with proteins in the mitochondria of cancer cells to kill the cells.