A new study has linked capsaicin, a component of chili peppers, to skin cancer.
Capsaicin, widely consumed worldwide in foods that contain chili peppers, is also used in topical creams for pain relief and its role in cancer development is controversial.
Capsaicin has been shown to induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. However, research findings have also shown that it can also act as a carcinogen, especially at the tumor promotion stage.
Ann Bode from University of Minnesota said that the possibility capsaicin induces inflammation and may affect cancer development is a critical result of the study.
"Most notably, the results raise concerns that a natural compound found in hot peppers used in over-the-counter topical pain remedies might increase skin cancer risk," said Bode, who led the research team on this study along with colleagues Mun Kyung Hwang and Zigang Dong.
The study has been published in the cancer journal, "Cancer Research."