Could capsaicin help with the fight against cancer?

Researchers say it’s possible.

Many of us eat hot peppers for their flavor or simply to get an extra dose of heat, but there are plenty of health benefits when it comes to chili peppers. The compound capsaicin is what spices up hot peppers, but now a new study suggests it may have an added benefit, as well. Researchers recently looked at using a synthetic form of capsaicin to help make small cell lung cancer more responsive to treatments. Because this type of cancer is particularly aggressive, doctors usually turn to chemotherapy.

While it does treat the cancer, sometimes the tumors come back.

While true capsaicin has showed promise in fighting cancer in the past, it does have some drawbacks. Sometimes it causes a burning sensation, stomach pain or nausea. In this latest research, scientists used a synthetic capsaicin analog called arvanil. Unlike the real thing, it doesn’t seem to have any digestive side effects. When researchers used arvanil in conjunction with another ingredient they found that cancer cell activity seemed to slow down. Because of this, researchers hope it could someday prove successful in the treatment of certain cancer patients.

Of course, this isn’t the first possible health benefit tied to capsaicin. In the past, genuine capsaicin’s been looked at in the treatment of topical pain, as well as to help with weight loss, diabetes and even some other forms of cancer. Apart from all of this, many of us enjoy genuine capsaicin in hot chili peppers simply for its flavor and its heat. Whether you choose a product high on the Scoville chart or a product that’s a bit lower on the pepper hotness scale, there’s nothing like the feeling of adding an extra dose of heat to one of your favorite snacks or meals. You don’t have to go overboard, either. When it comes to hot peppers, a little goes a long way.

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