Researchers at the Nottingham University have discovered the ability of spicy foods to kill cancer cells. They have found that capsaicin attack mitochondria in cancer cells, thus triggering cancer cell death. The study showed that vanilloids, the family of molecules to which capsaicin belongs, can bind to proteins in the cancer cell mitochondria to trigger apoptosis (cell death) without harming healthy cells.
According to the lead researcher Dr. Timothy Bates, these compounds attack the very heart of the tumour cells, and thus they believe they have discovered a fundamental vulnerability for all cancers as the biochemistry of the mitochondria in cancer cells is very different from that in normal cells.
Dr. Bates said that it is possible that cancer patients or those at risk of developing cancer be advised to eat a diet rich in spicy food to help treat or prevent the disease.
Joshphine Querido, cancer information officer at Cancer Research UK however cautioned that the research only showed that pepper extracts killed cancer cells grown in the laboratory, but it need to be tested to see if they are safe and effective in humans.
Source: How spicy foods can kill cancers