Capsaicin May Slow Down Lung Cancer
Are you fond of eating peppers? Who doesn’t love that extra heat from the food that we eat? Chili peppers are often used in stir-fry, soups, fried foods, and such because of the flavor that it brings. It appears that your love of this spice may help protect you from lung cancer. A recent study shows that capsaicin, the compound that gives heat to chili peppers, can prevent lung cancer from metastasis.
The American Cancer Society stated that cancer is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States with 228,150 people developing cancer of the lungs with more than half of them dying from the said condition. Their deaths are due to the cancer spreading from the lungs to different parts of the body.
The good news, however, is that a recent study shows that there may be a way to slow down metastasis with the aid of a nutritional compound. It appears that capsaicin showed a significant impact on lung cancer in rodents as well as in cultured human cell lines.
The new study on the effects of capsaicin was spearheaded by Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D, from Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in Huntington WV with Jamie Friedman, who is a doctoral researcher who is part of Dasgupta’s lab, being the first author for the paper. Their study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Investigative Pathology which was held in Orlando, Florida.
How Does Capsaicin Work?
How does capsaicin work? The researchers of the study tested the capsaicin compound on their three samples of cultured lines of human non-small cancer cells in the lungs and found that the compound actually stopped the first stage of metastasis which is also referred to as invasion.
Friedman, together with his colleagues, gave the mice that show signs of lung cancer a diet that contains capsaicin. They found that the mice had smaller metastatic cancer cells present in their lungs compared to those mice who weren’t treated at all.
Additional experiments on the cells showed that capsaicin actually blocked Src protein activation. Src protein plays a role in the survival, proliferation, as well as motility of the cancer cells too. Friedman and the rest of his team stated in their research how capsaicin directly interacted with the Src protein and how it prevented its activation to prevent the spread of the cancer cells. They hoped that the result of their studies may be used in creating anti-metastatic therapies for patients who have lung cancer.
The researchers, on the other hand, noted that they will need a way to create capsaicin analogs that can help minimize the side effects associated with capsaicin which include stomach cramps, gastrointestinal irritation, as well as burning sensation just to name a few. Still, Friedman hopes that there will come a time where capsaicin can be used together with other types of chemotherapeutics to help patients with lung cancer. According to Friedman, their study suggests that the capsaicin found in chili peppers presents a novel therapy to help fight off the metastasis of cancer cells in patients with lung cancer.
Friedman’s study on capsaicin isn’t the first on capsaicin, as there are several that have been done already that show the extensive health benefits of capsaicin. Previous studies found that capsaicin can help prevent the formation of triple-negative breast cancer cells while other studies points to the compound being able to reduce a person’s risk from colorectal cancer. Early research also showed that capsaicin can help extend our lifespan as well.
This recent news has become a big deal in the health industry with lung cancer being one of the leading causes of cancer death in both men and women as it is difficult to treat on its own. The problem with this type of cancer is that it doesn’t show any symptoms until it has already metastasized. Unfortunately, once the cancer cells have spread, it’s hard to stop them in their tracks.
Although further studies are needed to really capture the potential of using capsaicin in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, its possibility of being used in tandem with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, is quite an exciting prospect for many. The researchers are still looking for capsaicin analogs without the pungent taste while still retaining its anti-tumor capabilities in order to make it more tolerable for patients. Like it was mentioned before, capsaicin can cause several side effects especially in the digestive tract which can be difficult for those who are using it as a treatment.
Who would have thought that chili peppers can do more than just add heat to our food? We all know that eating chili peppers can help fight off inflammation which is one of the reasons why it is commonly used in creams used for muscle pain and such because of its efficacy. Today, with the latest studies conducted on capsaicin, it appears that it can do more in helping to slow down the spread of cancer cells in the lungs and other types of cancer.