It's found in spicy chili, bold sauces, and many south-of-the-border goodies. It's also the stuff that gives hot peppers their heat and makes your eyes water just a tad. And your colon really loves it.
We're talking about capsaicin. New research suggests this nippy little compound that makes your mouth tingle may make colon cancer cells pretty uncomfortable, too, sending them into a self-destructive death spiral. Ouch.
Dance of the Dying Cell
In a recent lab study, capsaicin sparked a complex set of mechanisms in colon cancer cells that had been exposed to the fiery compound for 24 hours. An enzyme thought to kill off cancer cells increased, as did death-inducing changes in the maverick cancer cells' mitochondria and DNA. More research is needed -- including research in human subjects -- to determine if dietary capsaicin could have similar beneficial effects against colon cancer. But animal research on pancreatic cancer and diet already suggests that dietary capsaicin may be up to the challenge.
More Ways to Cut Colon Cancer
Red peppers tend to have more capsaicin than green peppers, but it can't hurt to add either kind to your huevos rancheros in the morning or to your fish tacos at night. Still, colon protection doesn't start and stop with the spicy stuff. For more gut protection, try these other tips as well:
- Savor the flavor of salmon. Find out why the special fat in this seafood is a friend to your colon.
- Like them apples. Here's why eating an apple a day may be anathema to colon cancer.
- Get checked. Simply put, colon cancer screening saves lives.
- Step to it. Exercise -- like the simple walking workout in this video -- is a great way to reduce your colon cancer risk.
Wait -- there's more! Capsaicin can help curb your appetite and calorie intake, too.