The big news this week comes from a group of Chinese researchers who’ve taken capsaicin research to the next level. And we’re damned excited about this one. We also realize the information you receive could be a little confusing.
According to the published information, capsaicin and a component in ginger work together to fight cancer.
Let’s dig a little deeper into that.
Voice of America Uses Some Old Information
How you’ve understood the research has a lot to do with which news source delivered it to you.
For example, some sources cited the fact that this revelation builds off of previous research into the cancer-fighting agents of capsaicin. Indeed, the best sources covered previous studies that demonstrated capsaicin may, on its own, prevent lung cancers from developing. (We’ll come back to this.)
But, a few sources dispersed old information. Voice of America used the headline, Cancer-causing Ingredient in Chili Peppers Soothed by Ginger. Ummmm… wow! That’s a big stretch from this normally reputable news source.
We’d like to point out some facts that counter the bold statement-making the VoA’s headline.
- Some early research considered the link between capsaicin and stomach cancers a few decades ago. However, these remain inconclusive.
- If capsaicin were considered unsafe or deemed carcinogenic, then the FDA would not approve it as a food source or an ingredient in medicines. The FDA has zero issues and, in fact, seems to look favorably on capsaicin in medicine.
- Mostly, the research points to capsaicin battling cancer. Laboratory results show that capsaicin can cause colon cancer cells to commit suicide without damaging surrounding, healthy tissues. There is plenty of substantiated research to show that capsaicin does a body good.
- “Soothed by ginger” is rather on the wrong side, as you’ll see below. It’s not as if ginger counteracts capsaicin. The latest research shows they work together.
How Do Ginger and Capsaicin Work Together?
Capsaicin we already know and love well. It’s the stuff in chili peppers that makes them hot. You can’t taste or smell capsaicin, so it has nothing to do with your taste buds. You know it’s there, though, because it’s damn hot. Or, rather, it feels like it’s hot when it interacts with specific pain receptors in the mucous membranes just under the surface of your skin (and inside your mouth).
So you’ll find capsaicin in chili peppers, much as you’ll find 6-gingerol in ginger. They’re a part of the structure of these plants and/or the fruit they produce. And both of these substances are mini miracle workers. They do a lot of good for the body.
For example, recent tests have demonstrated the ability of capsaicin to prevent the development of lung cancer even when taken orally (meaning, the consumption of chili peppers or hot sauces).
Now it appears that capsaicin combined with 6-gingerol does it even better. Apparently, 6-gingerol binds itself to capsaicin and together they’re a super inhibitor of cancer. Come on, you have to love that, don’t you?
But, before you get too excited, you should know that this hasn’t been tested across the board. As yet, it’s only been demonstrated in laboratory animals and only in the case of lung cancer. Still, we think it’s time to whip up a little Mad Dog and ginger stir-fry. At least, that’s what we’re doing.