If you have a taste for spicy foods, eating them may come with an added benefit. Research has found that an active ingredient found in chili peppers may help to fight breast cancer.
The ingredient, called capsaicin, is responsible for the fiery sensation you get from eating spicy foods, from curry to hot wings.
After conducting tests on cell cultures that replicated triple-negative breast cancer, scientists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany added capsaicin to the cultures.
Researchers found that this activated a receptor linked to cancer called Transient Receptor Potential Channels (TRPV1). This receptor was found in nine different samples of breast cancer patients.
Because of TRPV1’s presence in the body, the cancerous cells divided more slowly, and it caused them to die in large numbers. The cancerous cells that survived were impaired, slowing the spread to other cells.
The findings were published in the journal Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy.
“If we could switch on the TRPV1 receptor with specific drugs, this might constitute a new treatment approach for this type of cancer,” researcher lead author Professor Hanns Hatt said.
This doesn’t mean that everyone should load up on extra spicy foods to treat themselves. Experts say just eating lots of the spice alone most likely will not combat the disease. Presently, chemotherapy is the best known medical treatment for fighting aggressive forms of breast cancer.
In addition to having the ability to destroy cancerous cells, capsaicin has also been known to provide temporary relief from muscle and joint pain caused by bruising, arthritis and strain.