A study in the journal Cancer Research appears to link capsaicin, a component of chili peppers, to skin cancer. This is a misinterpretation of the data, according to SuperSite Publisher Dave DeWitt, international authority on chili peppers and author of more than forty books about peppers, including The Healing Powers of Peppers. The study was focused specifically on the topical application of capsaicin, not on chili peppers as food. To quote the study itself, “capsaicin alone does not act as a carcinogen.”
Toxic Chemicals Caused Tumors, Not Capsaicin
Researchers at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, treated the skin of mice with a mixture of TPA and DMBA, two powerful and highly toxic tumor-producing chemicals. The mice were virtually guaranteed to develop skin cancer. Some were treated with a mixture of the chemicals plus capsaicin, and some were treated with capsaicin only.
While study results indicated that combining capsaicin with the chemicals “might promote cancer cell survival,” the report clearly stated that the control group of mice treated only with capsaicin “…did not induce any skin tumors…” In addition, the study repeatedly cited other research studies in which the anti-cancer properties of capsaicin were solidly demonstrated. A link to the full article can be found here.