'Spice Up' Your Life: People Who Eat Chili Peppers May Live Longer, Say Scientists

Scientists state that those who consume chili pepper may live much longer, and may have a decreased risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular diseases

People often say that it is important to spice up one's life. However, what if doing it literally helped you live longer? According to a new preliminary research, that may potentially be the case. Scientists stated that individuals who consume chili pepper may live much longer, and may have a remarkably decreased risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular diseases.

To be presented soon at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2020, the research reviewed nearly 5,000 previously published papers on the benefits of eating chili pepper and compared it to the health records of thousands of people to find a link.

"We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all-cause, CVD and cancer mortality. It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health," said Dr. Bo Xu, senior author, in a statement.

Adding 'Spice' to Life

Chili Pepper
Chili Pepper (Representational Picture) Pikrepo

Previous researches have proven with sufficient evidence that chili peppers possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and blood-glucose regulating properties. These effects are attributed to a compound known as capsaicin, which is known to give chili peppers their distinctive mild to intense spiciness when consumed.

In order to examine the effects of chili pepper on overall and cardiovascular disease mortality, the scientists reviewed 4,729 studies from five major global health databases. The dietary and health records of over 570,000 individuals from China, Iran, Italy, and the United States, were utilized to compare the health outcomes of individuals who consumed chili peppers to those who occasionally or never ate the members of the nightshade family.

Remarkable Benefits of Consuming Chili Peppers

In comparison to those who rarely or never consumed chili peppers, the researchers found that there was a 26 percent relative reduction in cardiovascular mortality among those who did. Also, there was a relative decrease of 23 percent in cancer mortality. When it came to all-cause mortality, a relive reduction of 25 percent was observed. The final analysis of the researchers consists of four extensive studies that include health outcomes for individuals for whom data on chili pepper consumption was available.

Picture for representation Reuters

"The exact reasons and mechanisms that might explain our findings, though, are currently unknown. Therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say that eating more chili pepper can prolong life and reduce deaths, especially from cardiovascular factors or cancer. More research, especially evidence from randomized controlled studies, is needed to confirm these preliminary findings," said Dr. Xu.

Need to Overcome Limitations

Despite the important findings, Dr. Xu admitted that the research was not without its limitations. The limited specific data on people and other factors may have had an influence on the final findings Dr. Xu said.

The researcher also pointed out that the type and amount of chili eaten were varying among the reviewed studies. This made it challenging to arrive at conclusions regarding "how much, how often, and which type" of chili pepper consumption could be linked to health benefits. The analysis of the data is ongoing and the scientists aim to publish a full paper shortly.

This article was first published on November 9, 2020
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