A new study published in the journal Cancer Research says that tumors treated with capsaicin, an ingredient found in pepper, shrank considerably in size. It was also found that this ingredient also "killed" prostate cancer cells. Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center studied the effect of pepper in mice, who were genetically modified to have human prostate cancer cells.
The mice were treated to 400 milligrams of capsaicin three times a week equivalent to three and eight fresh habanero peppers. It was found that Capsaicin induced the prostate cancer cells to undergo apoptosis or natural death. Cancer cells usually avoid this process and hence are able to multiply at a very rapid rate. "Capsaicin had a profound anti-proliferative effect on human prostate cancer cells in culture. It also dramatically slowed the development of prostate tumors," said Dr Soren Lehmann, who led the study. "When we noticed that capsaicin affected NF-kappa Beta, that was an indication that we might expect some of the apoptotic proteins to be affected," said the study's senior author, Phillip Koeffler, M.D., of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and professor at UCLA. But Chris Hiley, head of policy and research at The Prostate Cancer Charity said that although the research was promising, it was too early to conclude anything, "We caution men with prostate cancer in the UK against upping their weekly intake of the hottest known chilies. High intake of hot chilies has been linked with stomach cancers in the populations of India and Mexico," said Hiley.