Chili Peppers & Colon Cancer

CapsicumChili peppers contain a plant compound known as capsaicin, which is the source of the fiery effects associated with this spice. Capsaicin has a long history of therapeutic application in traditional medicine. Recent research also suggests that capsaicin may represent a potential treatment for colon cancer. However, the evidence to support the use of capsaicin in colon cancer therapy at present comes exclusively from animal and laboratory research. Speak to your doctor or health-care practitioner about chili peppers if you have colon cancer.


Capsaicin is the active, spicy component derived from the fruit of the capsicum plant. Traditional medicine uses capsaicin to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive problems, poor circulation, loss of appetite and arthritis. According to the American Cancer Society, current FDA-approved uses for capsaicin include topical pain relief for muscle soreness and arthritis.

Antitumor Potential

A recent study suggests that capsaicin has the ability to inhibit cancer cell growth. In a 2010 article published in the “Indian Journal of Cancer,” researchers from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria showed that the capsaicin found in chili peppers interferes with the expression of a protein called nuclear factor kappa B, or NF-kB. The activation of this protein is one of the conditions necessary for cancer to manifest in the body.


The capsaicin in chili peppers arrests the growth of colon cancer cells in a laboratory setting, according to recent research. In 2010, researchers from the Cheng Hsin General Hospital in Taiwan exposed human colon cancer cells to capsaicin. They found that the compound was toxic to the cancer cells and induced them to die. The researchers proposed that capsaicin may effectively block tumor growth in colon cancer patients. The results of this research appeared in the December 2010 issue of the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.”

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