Chilis and Cancer

Capsaicin structureIf you’ve ever worried that a steaming hot bowl of chili or cajun chicken might be doing you more harm than good, then you’re not alone. Research earlier this decades pointed out that capsaicin (the “hot” compound in red hot chili peppers) and safrole (the hot molecule in black pepper) could both be carcinogenic.

Thankfully, for lovers of Mexican-American, Cajun, white Creole, black Creole, spicy Indian food, Malaysian, Thai etc etc…the opposite seems to be true. It is more likely that compounds found in spicy foods are good for us. One might wonder how such cuisine could have persisted for countless generations if they weren’t good for us. After all the news just in on saturated animal fat is that even it is better for us than the last 20 years of health scaremongering would have you believe and we have been eating that for countless, countless generations.

Anyway, the BayBlab submission to the Cancer Research Blog Carnival #14 hosted on Sciencebase today, cites the various compounds in spices that are thought to have health-giving properties. These include turmeric (curcumin), red chili (capsaicin), cloves (eugenol), ginger (zerumbone), fennel (anethole), kokum (gambogic acid), fenugreek (diosgenin), and black cumin (thymoquinone). The ability of all these compounds to prevent, rather than cause, cancer has apparently now been established.

So, with your health taken care of, it’s time to turn up the heat and tuck into that chili bowl with a smug, if scorched, look on your face!