Eat Peppers and Stay Healthy.
Sam's Salsa and Sam's Napoli both have hot peppers and
here's the reason why we tastefully add these hot peppers to our
The term "peppers" encompasses a diverse group
of plants, ranging from the popular sweet green or red bell pepper
to the fiery hot habanero or the even more lethal Scotch bonnet.
When Columbus tasted the small, hot red "berries" he found on his
Caribbean voyages, he believed he had reached India where Europeans
obtained black pepper and called them red pepper. In truth, the
native peoples of the Americas had been growing and enjoying sweet
and chili peppers for an estimated 7,000 years. Soon after
Columbus's ships brought them back to Spain, traders spread them
around the world, transforming cuisines and people's preventive
health prospects from Morocco to Hungary, and India to
Peppers whether sweet bell or hot chili are members of
the plant genus "capsicum" (cap-sih-kum), a term that comes from the
Greek word kapto, which means "to bite."
All peppers contain compounds called capsaicinoids. This is
especially true of chili peppers, which derive their spicy heat as
well as extraordinary anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-cancer,
heart healthy effects from very high levels of capsaicinoids, the
most common form of which is capsaicin.
In addition to capsaicin, chilies are high in antioxidant carotenes
and flavonoids, and contain about twice the amount of vitamin C
found in citrus fruits. Almost any dish, from homemade soups, stews
and chili to stir fries, salads, and salsas, can benefit from small
amounts of hot peppers.
Capsaicin's Health Benefits
Headache help: Substance P is the key
transmitter of pain to the brain. In fact, Substance P is the body's
main mechanism for producing swelling and pain throughout the
trigeminal nerve, which runs through the head, temple, and sinus
cavity. When the nerve fibers come in contact with Substance P, they
react by swelling an effect that yields headaches and sinus
symptoms. Clinical studies have shown that capsaicin, a compound in
hot peppers, is extremely effective for relieving and preventing
cluster headaches, migraine headaches, and sinus headaches.
Arthritis relief: People suffering
from arthritis pain typically have elevated levels of Substance P in
their blood and in the synovial fluid that bathes their joints.
Research has shown that eating foods that contain capsaicin or
applying a topical cream that contains capsaicin can suppress
Substance P production.
Capsaiscin as spicy sinus soother:
Capsaicin also possesses powerful antibacterial properties, and is
very effective in fighting and preventing chronic sinus infections
(sinusitis). This purely natural chemical will also clear out
congested nasal passages like nothing else, and is helpful in
treating sinus-related allergy symptoms. Small daily doses of
capsaicin have even been shown to prevent chronic nasal
Capsaicin as anti-inflammatory: In recent years, researchers discovered that capsaicin is a potent
anti-inflammatory, and have even pinpointed how it works to fight
chronic, sub-clinical inflammation. The nuclei of human cells
contain chemicals called nuclear transcription factors (NTFs), two
of which activator protein 1 (AP-1) and NF-kappa B are especially
important targets when it comes to prevention of cancer and
premature aging of skin. Each of these NTFs can be "activated" by
ultraviolet light and free radicals: a result that produces a
pro-inflammatory chain reaction that promotes premature aging and a
wide variety of degenerative diseases. As it turns out, nature
offers several effective NTF-activation blockers, including the
capsaicin in chilies, and the yellow pigment curcumin in
Gastric relief: A recent study on gastric disorders at Duke University showed capsaicin may actually
lead to a cure for certain intestinal diseases. The Duke team found
that a specific nerve cell receptor appears to be necessary to
initiate the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a
general term given to a variety of chronic disorders in which the
intestine becomes inflamed resulting in recurring abdominal cramps,
pain and diarrhea. The cause of IBD is unknown, and it is believed
that up to 2 million Americans suffer from this disorder.
Capsaicin versus cancer: Several
recent studies have shown that capsaicin may actually prevent the
growth of certain types of cancer. In particular, there have been
several clinical studies conducted in Japan and China that showed
natural capsaicin directly inhibits the growth of leukemic cells.
Although these studies used pure capsaicin directly injected into
isolated diseased cells in a laboratory setting, scientists have
also concluded that daily consumption of hot peppers (thus
capsaicin) may actually prevent certain types of cancer. Throughout
South America, intestinal, stomach, and colon cancer rates are very
low compared to the United States. It is widely regarded by medical
experts that this low cancer rate may be tied to the large amounts
of capsaicin in their diets, since nearly every main dish in their
normal diet contains some form of capsaicin-based food, particularly
hot cayenne and jalapeno peppers. Of course we must also take into
consideration the fact these cultures also consume fiber rich beans
on a daily basis.
Capsaicin as fat burner: Capsaicin is
an active ingredient in many of the most popular "fat burning"
supplements on the market. A thermogenic agent, capsaicin helps to
increase overall metabolic activity, thus helping the body burn
calories and fat. Since the FDA banned the herb ephedra, supplement
manufacturers have been searching for new thermogenic ingredients
and many have added chilies to the mix. While capsaicin replaces
some of ephedra's metabolic effects, it doesn't have that herb's
negative, stimulant effects on heart rate. In fact, capsaicin is an
actively "heart healthy" supplement.
Public release date: 15-Mar-2006
Pepper component hot enough to trigger suicide in prostate
Capsaicin, the stuff that turns up the heat in
jalapenos, not only causes the tongue to burn, it also drives prostate cancer
cells to kill themselves, according to studies published in the March 15 issue
of Cancer Research.
According to a team of researchers from the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive
Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in collaboration with
colleagues from UCLA, the pepper component caused human prostate cancer cells to
undergo programmed cell death or apoptosis.
Capsaicin induced approximately 80 percent of prostate cancer cells growing
in mice to follow the molecular pathways leading to apoptosis. Prostate cancer
tumors treated with capsaicin were about one-fifth the size of tumors in
"Capsaicin had a profound anti-proliferative effect on human prostate cancer
cells in culture," said Soren Lehmann, M.D., Ph.D., visiting scientist at the
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the UCLA School of Medicine. "It also
dramatically slowed the development of prostate tumors formed by those human
cell lines grown in mouse models."
Lehmann estimated that the dose of pepper extract fed orally to the mice was
equivalent to giving 400 milligrams of capsaicin three times a week to a 200
pound man, roughly equivalent to between three and eight fresh habanera peppers
depending on the pepper's capsaicin content. Habaneras are the highest rated
pepper for capsaicin content according to the Scoville heat index. Habanero
peppers, which are native to the Yucatan, typically contain up to 300,000
Scoville units. The more popular Jalapeno variety from Oaxaca, Mexico, and the
southwest United States, contains 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units.
As described in their study, the scientists observed that capsaicin inhibited
the activity of NF-kappa Beta, a molecular mechanism that participates in the
pathways leading to apoptosis in many cell types.
Apoptosis is a normal cellular event in many tissues that maintains a balance
between newer replacement cells and aged or worn cells. In contrast, cancer
cells seek to be immortal and often dodge apoptosis by mutating or deregulating
the genes that participate in programmed cell death.
"When we noticed that capsaicin affected NF-kappa Beta, that was an
indication that we might expect some of the apoptotic proteins to be affected,"
said the study's senior author, Phillip Koeffler, M.D., director of Hematology
and Oncology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and professor at UCLA.
The pepper extract also curbed the growth of prostate cancer cells through
regulation of androgen receptors, the steroid activated proteins that control
expression of specific growth relating genes.
In prostate cancer cells whose growth is dependent on testosterone, the
predominant male sex steroid, capsaicin reduced cell proliferation in a
dose-dependent manner. Increased concentrations of capsaicin caused more
prostate cancer cells to freeze in a non-proliferative state, called G0/G1.
Prostate cancer cells that are androgen independent reacted to capsaicin in a
similar manner. Capsaicin reduced the amount of androgen receptor that the tumor
cells produced, but did not interfere with normal movement of androgen receptor
into the nucleus of the cancer cells where the steroid receptor acts to regulate
androgen target genes such as prostate specific antigen (PSA). Capsaicin also
interfered with the action of androgen receptors even in cells that were
modified to produce excess numbers of androgen receptors.
The hot pepper component also reduced cancer cell production of PSA, a
protein that often is produced in high quantities by prostate tumors and can
signal the presence of prostate cancer in men. PSA content in the blood of men
is used as a diagnostic prostate cancer screening measure. PSA is regulated by
androgens, and capsaicin limited androgen-induced increases of PSA in the cancer
More men in the United States develop prostate cancer than any other type of
malignancy. Every year, more than 232,000 new cases of prostate cancer are
diagnosed in the U.S., and more than 680,000 develop the disease worldwide.
Approximately 30,000 men die from prostate cancer in the U.S. each year, which
is about 13 percent of all new cases. Worldwide, there are 221,000 deaths approximately 31 per cent among men with prostate cancer.
Lehman conducted the studies in Koeffler's laboratory in collaboration with
UCLA cancer researchers Akio Mori, James O'Kelly, Takishi Kumagai, Julian
Desmond, Milena Pervan, and William McBride. Mosahiro Kizaki, a former
post-doctoral fellow in Koeffler's laboratory who initiated the capsaicin
studies, is currently at the Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.
The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and
cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the worlds oldest and largest
professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research.
Our members include more than 24,000 basic, translational, and clinical
researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the
United States and more than 60 other countries.
AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to
accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through
high-quality scientific and educational programs, and funding meritorious research
The AACR Annual Meeting attracts some 16,000 participants who share the latest
discoveries and developments. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel
information across a wide variety of cancer research and patient care topics.
AACR publishes five major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical
Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and
Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, as well as CR, a magazine about
people and progress in cancer.
Contact: Russell Vanderboom, Ph.D.
American Association for Cancer