Supplements and Herbs

Capsaicin, chili peppers and cancer

Research studies

copyright © 2014 & 2018 Healing Cancer Naturally

The simple fact of consuming red hot chili peppers has been found to be associated with a decrease in general mortality in a large-scale study involving 16,000+ participants.[1]

Capsaicin (an important ingredient in chili peppers, see Definitions) has been shown to have tumor-suppressive effects in a large number of scientific studies (many of which involve animal cancer experimentation, however, or are in-vitro). The exact molecular mechanisms and pathways involved in capsaicin's anticancer activity so far are not fully understood.

Searching the biomedical database PubMed (which publishes only scientifically validated studies) for the terms "capsaicin cancer" and "chili pepper cancer" currently (5/2018) yields 674 and 158 results respectively. The following is a small selection.

  • More Than Spice: Capsaicin in Hot Chili Peppers Makes Tumor Cells Commit Suicide

    Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2002, the full-length article discussing the findings of this study can be read at
    http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/94/17/1263.long.
  • CBP mediated FOXO-1 Acetylation Inhibits Pancreatic Tumor Growth by Targeting SirT

    Research done at the University of Pittsburgh, USA, looked into the inhibitory effect of capsaicin on pancreatic cancer cells. As already reported at the Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington (April 2006), capsaicin by disrupting mitochondrial function leads to apoptosis of the malignant cells while leaving healthy pancreatic cells unaffected.

    Elsewhere one of the study authors confided his feeling that capsaicin was an effective inhibitor of the cancer process and could possibly serve as a novel chemotherapeutic agent for pancreatic cancer.

    Published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics in 2014, this study can be read at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3954235/ .

  • Alpha-tocopherol: roles in prevention and therapy of human disease.

    Some hot chili pepper varieties are good sources of alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E which could play a role in the prevention of certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases and Alzheimer's.

    Published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy in 2005, the study can be found at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16081238 .
  • Capsaicin, a Component of Red Peppers, Inhibits the Growth of Androgen-Independent, p53 Mutant Prostate Cancer Cells

    A mouse study in which capsaicin caused the apoptosis of some 80 % of prostate cancer cells. Extrapolating from the amounts used in the study, a man weighing 90 kg (~ 200 lbs) would need a dose of 450 mg capsaicin three times a week to see a therapeutic effect.

    You can read the text in its entirety at http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/66/6/3222.long .

  • Induction of apoptosis in prostate tumor PC-3 cells and inhibition of xenograft prostate tumor growth by the vanilloid capsaicin.

    Published in Apoptosis in 2006, the authors conclude that the data obtained show capsaicin's potential against androgen-independent prostate cancer cells which could make the compound a promising anti-tumor agent in hormone-refractory prostate cancer resistant to numerous types of chemotherapy.

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16374544
  • Ion channel TRPV1-dependent activation of PTP1B suppresses EGFR-associated intestinal tumorigenesis

    Researchers at the University of California demonstrated that capsaicin in hot chili peppers produces a reaction on intestinal cell receptors that reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. Published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2014.

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/25083990
  • The potential antitumor effects of capsaicin.

    From the abstract of this study published in Progress in Drug Research (2014): "Capsaicin ...has been ... demonstrated to induce apoptosis in many types of malignant cell lines including colon adenocarcinoma, pancreatic cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, prostate cancer, breast cancer.... [and] shows antitumor activity in vivo by reducing the growth of many tumors induced in mice."

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/24941670
  • Capsaicin treatment attenuates cholangiocarcinoma carcinogenesis.

    From the abstract of this study published in PLoS One (2014): "... capsaicin can relieve inflammation and has anti-proliferative effects on various human malignancies. [In] ...cultured human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines, capsaicin effectively impaired cell proliferation, migration, invasion, epithelial to mesenchymal transition..."

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/24748170
    (free full article available at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991659/)
  • Selective induction of apoptosis by capsaicin in transformed cells: the role of reactive oxygen species and calcium.

    From the abstract of this study which was published in Cell Death and Differentation (1999): "Capsaicin ... inhibits the plasma membrane electron transport system and induces apoptosis ... results provide evidence that the plasma membrane electron transport system may be an interesting target to design antitumoral and anti-inflammatory drugs."

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/10200562
    Free full text available at www.nature.com/cdd/journal/v6/n2/pdf/4400465a.pdf
  • Capsaicin induces apoptosis in human small cell lung cancer via the TRPV6 receptor and the calpain pathway.

    From the abstract of this study published in Apoptosis (2014): "Capsaicin ... displays potent anti-neoplastic activity in a wide array of human cancer cells ... [but] induced very little apoptosis in normal lung epithelial cells."

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/24878626
  • Capsaicin induces apoptosis and modulates MAPK signaling in human gastric cancer cells.

    "Capsaicin ... known to have tumor-suppressive effects.. induced apoptosis in vitro in a dose-dependent manner" ... suggesting that it could "serve as an anti-tumorigenic agent in human gastric cancer". (Molecular Medicine Reports [2014])

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/24337453
  • Capsaicin induces apoptosis in MG63 human osteosarcoma cells via the caspase cascade and the antioxidant enzyme system.

    "Capsaicin has been demonstrated to inhibit the growth of several types of cancer cells [and] exhibited an anticancer effect in osteosarcoma cells." (Molecular Medicine Reports, 2013)

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/24142063
    The full text of this study can be found at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3829765/.
  • The selective target of capsaicin on FASN expression and de novo fatty acid synthesis mediated through ROS generation triggers apoptosis in HepG2 cells.

    (PLoS One, 2014) "...results provide novel evidence that capsaicin exhibits a potent anti-cancer property..."

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/25255125
    Free full text at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4177889/
  • Capsaicin-mediated apoptosis of human bladder cancer cells activates dendritic cells via CD91.

    "Our data ...suggest capsaicin as an attractive candidate for cancer therapy." (published in Nutrition, 2014).

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/25220876
  • Capsaicin, a Component of Red Peppers, Inhibits the Growth of Androgen-Independent, p53 Mutant Prostate Cancer Cells

    Dr. S. Lehmann of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the University of California LA School of Medicine and team tested capsaicin effects on human prostate cancer implanted in murine test subjects.

    They found that the tumors in mice consuming capsaicin were 1/5 the size of those not fed this substance: 80% of the malignant cells self-destructed through the process of apoptosis. While the study is preliminary, the findings suggest that this hot pepper component may benefit human cancer patients.

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/16540674
    The entire study can be read at http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/66/6/3222.long

    Note however that there is overwhelming scientific evidence that animal testing results are frequently not transferable to humans, see Cancer Research & Animal Experimentation: an Unholy Union?. On the other hand, accumulating anecdotal evidence from Kelley Eidem’s Habanero peppers plus garlic cancer treatment seems to show that capsaicin has indeed great cancer-fighting potential in humans.
  • Growth inhibition of capsaicin on HeLa cells is not mediated by intracellular calcium mobilization.

    (Life Sciences, 1999)

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/10210280
  • Antitumor activity of capsaicin on human colon cancer cells in vitro and colo 205 tumor xenografts in vivo.

    (Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 2010)

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/21082859

Also see

  • How spicy foods can kill cancers

    Capsaicin killed lung and pancreatic cancer cells in-vitro by attacking their mitochondria and triggering apoptosis.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6244715.stm

...and regarding the question how much cayenne may be healthy to take for healthy individuals:

  • The impact of capsaicin intake on risk of developing gastric cancers: a meta-analysis.

    (Journal of Gastrointestinal Cancer, 2014) "Reported associations of capsaicin with gastric cancer development have been conflicting". This meta-analysis involving a total of 6448 individuals points to "moderate" capsaicin consumption providing protective benefits.

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/24756832

Inoperable brain tumor cured via colon/liver detox and cayenne pepper tea

In a lecture, master herbalist Dr Richard Schulze shared the case of a man with an inoperable brain tumor who was given a 5% chance of survival if he submitted to chemotherapy. Instead, the patient undertook a colon/liver detox and began drinking ten cups of cayenne pepper tea daily.

After three months, x-rays taken by his doctor showed the tumor in his head to have dried up and died. According to Dr Schulze, this cure was due to the many important phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals found in cayenne pepper cleaning the blood which in turn allowed hormonal signals to freely travel through the body and enabled a stronger immune response. Countries with very hot cuisines apparently have significantly lower incidences of cancer as well as heart disease.

Note: Featuring the above report is not an endorsement of the method used. For many other ways individuals have overcome brain cancer, see Testimonials of brain cancer healed thanks to flaxoil & cottage cheese and/or full Johanna Budwig protocol and the related pages.

Re megadoses of cayenne, also see the Cayenne caveat under Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper.

Some of the other health benefits of chili peppers as evidenced by scientific studies

Heart disease / stroke

A large-scale study involving over 16,000 participants has shown that regular chili pepper consumption can decrease the risk of dying from a stroke or heart disease by 13 % when compared to those who don't consume any.[1]

This benefit of chili peppers reportedly is owed to its high capsaicin content which contributes to heart and cerebral health by lowering cholesterol[2] and relaxing the vascular muscles, thus allowing better circulation.

In fact, it has also been successfully used in cases of acute heart attack, see Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper.

Joint pain

Both the FDA and the European League Against Rheumatism have recommended the local application of a cayenne cream or gel (capsaicin concentration of 0.025 - 0.075 %). Apply between three and four times a day for a minimum of two weeks.

Weight loss

Studies have shown that capsaicin intake increases metabolism (resting energy expenditure) after eating as well as the feeling of satiety, while decreasing food intake.[3]

Footnotes

1 The Association of Hot Red Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort Study (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28068423)

2 For information on how cholesterol affects one's chances of contracting cancer, see On the link between cholesterol and cancer incidence.

3 See e.g. Dietary capsaicin and its anti-obesity potency: from mechanism to clinical implications (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28424369).

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