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A chemical compound called capsaicin found in some of the world’s spiciest types of curry could help reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer, a new study has found.
Capsaicin, which gives chilli peppers their spice, was given to mice genetically modified to be more prone to developing multiple tumours in their gastrointestinal tract. The chemical compound triggered a pain receptor in the cells of the mouse intestines, setting off a biological reaction that reduced the risk of growing colorectal tumours. The mice which were fed capsaicin were less likely to develop bowel cancer and their lifespans were extended by up to a staggering 30%.
Bowel cancer is currently the third most common cancer in the UK, with over 41,000 new cases of the disease being diagnosed each year.
This study has also recommended that patients who may have a bigger risk of developing colon or rectal cancers should be given capsaicin as part of their diet in order to help inhibit tumour growth.
The chemical compound is already used as a painkiller in some medical and herbal ointments (often listed as chilli) where it works by irritating and overwhelming nerve endings, reducing their effectiveness at reporting pain to the brain for extended periods of time. It is also used in pepper spray.
A study published even earlier this year documented that mice which were fed capsaicin, and therefore could block the pain-sensing protein called TRPV1 also had memories which faded less with the years, as well as being able to burn off calories more easily, cutting the risk of diabetes.
Other research found that capsaicin even lowers blood pressure when consumed regularly.
University of California researcher Andrew Dillin said, “Chronic ingestion of compounds that affect TRPV1 such as capsaicin might help prevent metabolic decline with age and lead to increased longevity in humans.”
However, eating too many curries has a side-effect: obesity. Eating too many hot curries has the increased likelihood of individuals piling on the pounds, and being overweight is a big contributor towards the risk of developing bowel cancer, despite the capsaicin helping prevent it.