If you’re a fan of a punch of flavor in your food, I’ve got some great news. A recent study found a simple combination of two delicious spices could dramatically slash cancer risk.
Researchers wanted to find out if chili peppers or ginger could lower our risk of cancer. To get the answer, over several weeks they fed cancer-prone mice active compounds from both spices.
The mice were divided into groups and fed either capsaicin from chili peppers, 6-gingerol from the ginger, or a combination of the two spices for 20 weeks, according to the study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.1
Ginger and chili pepper slash cancer risk
The mice were bred specifically to develop cancer, so it wasn’t surprising when a number of them began sprouting tumors. In fact, all of the mice that were fed the capsaicin alone developed lung cancer. And half of the mice that were given the 6-gingerol alone did, as well.
But the combo group really blew everyone away.
The cancer rate in the mice that got both spice extracts plummeted, with only 20 percent of the mice developing tumors.
Ginger found to combat cancer cells
Earlier studies had already hinted at ginger’s potential for lowering cancer risk. A 2007 study, for example, found the spice kept ovarian cancer cells from growing.2
In a Georgia State University study, a ginger extract shrunk prostate tumors in mice by 56 percent.3 And in a study published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers concluded that a component of ginger was able to target the root cause of breast cancer malignancy.4
Chili peppers shown to fight cancer
Chili peppers have shown promise when it comes to fighting cancer, too. Researchers found compounds in chili peppers kill cancer cells by starving them of oxygen.5,6 And the capsaicin in chili peppers had been shown to suppress cancer cells in earlier studies.7,8
Research at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras revealed that capsaicin binds to the surface of cancer cells causing the membrane to come apart.9 This effect leaves the cells vulnerable, and may be able to be used to help kill the cells.
Both spices deliver BIG health benefits
More research is under way, but there’s no reason to wait around for those results. Ginger and chili peppers are already a terrific way to add some kick to your meals, and they come with a bunch of other health benefits too.
To begin with, both spices are loaded with good for your nutrients. Ginger can help calm nausea,10,11 has been shown to help relieve muscle pain and soreness,12,13 is a natural anti-inflammatory which may help with joint pain14 and could even help control blood sugar.15 And studies show chili peppers may be able to help relieve heartburn,16,17 suppress appetite and boost fat burning.18,19,20
Try adding more ginger and chili pepper to your menu today. Both go great in stir fries, combined with olive oil they make a delicious marinade for chicken and they’re surprisingly delicious mixed into meatloaf, burgers and even lightly steamed veggies.
Improve your meals and reduce your cancer risk at the same time with this tag team of spices.
1. “Gingerol Reverses the Cancer-Promoting Effect of Capsaicin by Increased TRPV1 Level in a Urethane-Induced Lung Carcinogenic Model,” J. Agric. Food Chem., 2016, 64 (31), pp 6203–6211
2. “Ginger inhibits cell growth and modulates angiogenic factors in ovarian cancer cells,” BMC Complement Altern Med. 2007; 7: 44
3. “Benefits of whole ginger extract in prostate cancer,” Br J Nutr. 2012 Feb;107(4):473-84
4. “6-Shogaol Inhibits Breast Cancer Cells and Stem Cell-Like Spheroids by Modulation of Notch Signaling Pathway and Induction of Autophagic Cell Death,” PLoS One, Published: September 10, 2015
5. “Examining the role of mitochondrial respiration in vanilloid-induced apoptosis. J Natl Cancer Inst 2002 Sep 4;94(17):1281-92
6. “Capsaicin in Hot Chili Peppers Makes Tumor Cells Commit Suicide,” JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2002) 94 (17): 1263-1265
7. “Capsaicin inhibits plasma membrane NADH oxidase and growth of human mouse melanoma lines,” Eur J Cancer 1996;32:1995-2003
8. “Inhibitory effect of capsaicin on mouse lung tumour development,” In vitro 1989;33:49-54
9. “Location, Partitioning Behavior, and Interaction of Capsaicin with Lipid Bilayer Membrane: Study Using Its Intrinsic Fluorescence,” J. Phys. Chem. B, 2015, 119 (36), pp 12086–12093
10. “Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials,” Br J Anaesth. 2000 Mar;84(3):367-71
11. “A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting,” Nutr J. 2014; 13: 20
12. “Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise,” J Pain. 2010 Sep;11(9):894-903
13. “Acute effects of dietary ginger on muscle pain induced by eccentric exercise,” Phytother Res. 2010 Nov;24(11):1620-6. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3148
14. “Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis,” Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Nov;44(11):2531-8
15. “The Effects of Ginger on Fasting Blood Sugar, Hemoglobin A1c, Apolipoprotein B, Apolipoprotein A-I and Malondialdehyde in Type 2 Diabetic Patients,” Iran J Pharm Res. 2015 Winter; 14(1): 131–140
16. “Red pepper and functional dyspepsia,” N Engl J Med. 2002 Mar 21;346(12):947-8
17. “581 Chili Improves Gastroesophageal Reflux Symptoms in Patients with Non Erosive Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (NERD),” Gastroenterology, Volume 136, Issue 5, Supplement 1, May 2009, Pages A-92
18. “Could capsaicinoids help to support weight management? A systematic review and meta-analysis of energy intake data,” Appetite. 2014 Feb;73:183-8
19. “The effects of capsaicin and capsiate on energy balance: critical review and meta-analyses of studies in humans,” Chem Senses. 2012 Feb;37(2):103-21
20. “Effects of red pepper added to high-fat and high-carbohydrate meals on energy metabolism and substrate utilization in Japanese women,” Br J Nutr. 1998 Dec;80(6):503-10
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