Eating Chili Peppers May Make You Live Longer
Worried about developing cardiovascular disease and/or cancer? Here’s the latest research on how the power of the pepper may help you live longer disease-free.
According to a recent news release from the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020 meeting, a research abstract titled “People who eat chili pepper may live longer?” adds to the growing evidence that hot peppers provide significant health benefits.
In past articles we have learned that capsaicin—the chemical component that gives many peppers their burn—has been associated with multiple health benefits. Capsaicin can be found in the white septa pith that divides the interior of a pepper into ridged sections where the seeds are formed. Over the past several years, capsaicin has garnered a considerable amount of attention for:
Weight Loss―Capsaicin is hypothesized to work by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, promoting the secretion of the catecholamine chemicals epinephrine and norepinephrine, which in turn increases the body’s metabolic rate and temperature and thus results in an increase in burning fat calories as heat―a process referred to as thermogenic biogenesis.
Cancer Prevention―researchers who are studying capsaicin’s anti-cancer properties have found that capsaicin does actually kill cancer cells grown in a lab.
Muscle Pain Relief―According to Dr. Oz, capsaicin in a homemade cream formulation can be used for muscle pain relief. Dr. Oz reported that capsaicin penetrates through the skin and stimulates neurons to the extent that it overwhelms the nerves and causes a depletion of a presynaptic neurotransmitter called “substance P.” Substance P is used to signal the sensations of heat and pain to the brain; and therefore, when substance P is depleted, it leaves the affected/treated part of the body insensate to pain.
Capsaicin Linked to Longer Life Study
More recently, the power of the pepper has made the news again with the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020 meeting where researchers report that individuals who consume chili pepper may live longer and may have a significantly reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer.
According to the American Heart Association, researchers have recently screened 4,729 studies from five leading global health databases and included an additional four large studies that revealed the health outcomes for participants with analyzed data focused on their chili pepper consumption.
From their analysis of over 570,000 individuals in the United States, Italy, China and Iran, what the analysis revealed was that compared to individuals who rarely or never ate chili pepper, people who ate chili pepper had:
• a 26% relative reduction in cardiovascular mortality.
• a 23% relative reduction in cancer mortality.
• a 25% relative reduction in all-cause mortality.
“We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all cause, CVD and cancer mortality. It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health,” said senior author Bo Xu, M.D., cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute in Cleveland, Ohio.
“The exact reasons and mechanisms that might explain our findings, though, are currently unknown. Therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say that eating more chili pepper can prolong life and reduce deaths, especially from cardiovascular factors or cancer. More research, especially evidence from randomized controlled studies, is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.”
For more about how what you eat can affect how long you live, here is an informative article titled “7 Food Factors That Increase Your Cancer Risk.”
Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.
Image Source: Courtesy of Christine Sponchia from Pixabay
“People who eat chili pepper may live longer?” American Heart Association newsroom 9 Nov. 2020.
“P1036: Impact of Chili-pepper Intake on All-cause and Cardiovascular Mortality—A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” Manpreet Kaur et al. Scientific Sessions Nov. 2020.