Jalapeno Peppers Show Promise as Treatment for Cancer
May 6, 2009
(ChattahBox)— A team of scientists from England just announced the results of an exciting new study, where they discovered that extracts from spicy jalapeno and chili peppers can kill the lifeblood of cancer cells, called mitochondria. The researchers from Nottingham University, injected capsaicin, an ingredient found in spicy peppers, into cancer cells grown in the laboratory with amazing results. The capsaicin attacked the mitochondria, killing off the cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.
The capsaicin was tested on cultures of human lung cancer cells and pancreatic cancers and in both instances; the capsaicin caused cancer cell death. Lead researcher Dr Timothy Bates, believes his team may have discovered the “Achilles heel” of cancer cells, theorizing the mitochondria may posses vulnerabilities that don’t exists in other parts of the deadly cells. This discovery raises implications for further studies, focusing on the mitochondria to develop additional methods to kill off the vulnerable center of cancer cells.
The researchers theorize that capsaicin, belonging to a class of molecules called, vanilloids, bind to proteins in the mitochondria, triggering apoptosis, or cell death. With capsaicin and other vanilloids, already safely existing in the foods we eat; researchers hope that any new drug containing capsaicin will easily sail through the approval process.
Creams containing capsaicin are already marketed for arthritis pain and as psoriasis treatments, suggesting a capsaicin ointment could be soon developed to treat skin cancers.
Meanwhile, researchers caution patients that this study, although extremely promising, has only been tested under a microscope in a laboratory and not on human subjects. Further studies are needed in human clinical trials to see how capsaicin works in the body. Researchers don’t recommend that cancer patients start binging on spicy jalapeno peppers.
However, Dr. Bates is excited about the results of his research, believing the development of anti-mitochondrial drugs for cancer chemotherapy, using capsaicin could one day be “extremely significant” in the fight against cancer.
The Cancer society recommends eating a balanced diet to reduce the risk of cancer, which should include plenty of fruits and vegetables.
The full study is available in the Journal of Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.