Capsaicin and Cancer

In the U.S., one person dies from cancer each
minute, and one out of three people will eventually die from cancer. Normally
when the body is injured, cells divide to replace the damaged ones and “know”
when to stop dividing. Cancer cells, however, divide uncontrollably and for no
obvious reason. Eventually, cancerous growths interfere with normal body
functioning, often resulting in death.

Capsaicin
(8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) is the active chemical compound found in the
seeds and fruit of chili peppers of the Capsicum genus such as cayenne pepper.
This pepper provides numerous health benefits. Capsicum is traditionally used
for muscular pain, headaches, to improve circulation and for its
gastrointestinal protective effects? It is also commonly added to herbal
formulations because it acts as a catalyst for other herbs and aids in their
absorption.


Many scientific studies have revealed the exciting
potential anti-cancer abilities of capsaicin. Although the exact mechanism(s) is
unclear, capsaicin has been shown to induce apoptosis in many different types of
cancer cells. Apoptosis is a natural form of cell death that occurs in old or
damaged cells that need to be replaced by new, healthier cells.

Capsaicin
has been shown to protect the stomach from various types of damage by affecting
gastric mucosal blood flow as well as mucosal and bicarbonate secretions. It
also has been shown to cause DNA fragmentation and subsequent apoptosis in human
gastric adenocarcinoma cells by reducing the expression of a cellular protein
that inhibits apoptosis (Bcl-2). Research shows that the number of abnormal
cells killed increased with greater doses of capsaicin. According to this study,
capsaicin induces apoptosis in abnormal cells by inhibiting NADH-plasma membrane
electron transport system by acting as a quinine analog. Cells generate most of
the energy (ATP) that they need to survive and reproduce via this electron
transport chain, which occurs in the mitochondria (also known as the powerhouse)
inside cells. If this system is disrupted, the cell cannot generate enough ATP
to sustain itself, and the cell dies. By disrupting the electron transport
chain, capsaicin decreases the amount of energy that is available to cancer
cells, and these cells cannot continue to proliferate. Cancer cells require more
energy than normal cells, because they are growing and dividing more rapidly
than normal cells. A reduced supply of energy caused by capsaicin can have a
major impact on abnormal cells.

In a
recent study conducted at the University of Nottingham, capsaicin was shown to
bind to proteins in the mitochondria of abnormal cells and trigger apoptosis
without being harmful to surrounding normal
cells.


This
anti-carcinogenic mechanism is surprisingly similar to how NSP Paw
Paw Cell-Reg
works.



Dr. Pramod Srivastava and his colleagues
conducted a study in which they discovered that capsaicin triggered apoptosis in
human pancreatic cancer cells, one of the most difficult types of cancer to
treat. Capsaicin increased the number of apoptotic proteins and reduced tumor
size in cancerous pancreatic cells but did not negatively affect normal
pancreatic cells.

Another study showed
that capsaicin inhibited the growth of leukemic cells

possibly by causing an increase in the
production of reactive oxygen species inside the abnormal cells, which leads to
apoptosis. Capsaicin did not inhibit the growth of normal
cells.



Capsaicin has also shown effectiveness in
inhibiting ovarian and breast cancer cells in vitro by decreasing the activity
of NADH oxidase, an enzyme needed for the production of ATP or cellular
energy.


A
recent study has shown that capsaicin induced human prostate cancer cells to
undergo apoptosis by inhibiting NF-Kappa Beta, a mechanism that leads to the
expression of certain genes that are involved in inflammation and the
development of cancer. This same study demonstrated that capsaicin slowed
prostate cancer cells by regulating androgen receptors on the cells and
decreased the production of PSA produced by the abnormal
cells.

Recent studies have also
demonstrated that capsaicin inhibited the ability of some chemical carcinogens
to bind to DNA3, suggesting that capsaicin may have cancer preventative
properties.

Capsaicin is generally
recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA in the United States when used orally and
topically in an appropriate manner.8 Capsaicin is found in foods that have a
long history of being used in the human diet without harm. This fact lends
support to its good safety profile.

Capsaicin
and other vanilloid compounds show strong evidence of having promising potential
in the fight against many types of cancer. However, more research is needed to
determine if capsaicin extracts are safe and effective for use in humans as a
treatment or preventative for cancer.


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Posted: 02/16/2007 at 04:57 PM
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Posted: 02/16/2007 at 04:57 PM
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