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Eating Ginger, Chili Peppers Could Lessen Cancer Risk

Sep 09, 2016 05:13 AM EDT

A new study revealed that the compounds found in ginger and chili peppers could interact with each other and could lower the risk of cancer.

The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, showed that the pungent compound in ginger, 6-ginergol, could counteract the harmful effects of the compound capsaicin found in chili peppers.

According to the press release of the American Chemical Society, ginger has been widely accepted to be a promising health-promoting ingredient. On the other hand, a diet rich with capsaicin is linked to the development of stomach cancer. Interestingly, the researchers discovered that the both the capsaicin and 6-ginergol bind to the same cellular receptor, one that is related to tumor growth.

For the study, the researchers conducted an experiment involving mice that are prone to lung cancer. The mice were given either capsaicin or 6-ginergol alone, or combination of both. After 20 weeks, the researchers observed that the all the mice receiving capsaicin alone developed lung carcinomas, while only half of the mice fed with 6-ginergol did. Surprisingly, only 20 percent of the mice that were fed with the combination of capsaicin and 6-ginergol developed cancer.

The researchers discovered that the cancer-inducing effect of capsaicin is due to the increased epidermal growth-factor receptor (EGFR) level by decreased transient receptor potential vanilloid type-1 (TRPV1), resulting to decrease levels of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and cyclin D1. On the other hand, 6-ginergol has the ability to promote TRPV1 level and drastically decreased the levels of EGFR, NF-κB, and cyclin D1, counteracting the cancer-promoting effect of capsaicin.

With their findings, the researchers want to conduct further research to have deeper understanding of the apparent contradiction between the two compounds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.5 million people in the United States were diagnosed with cancer in 2011. These include more than 575,000 cases of cancer that resulted to death, making it the second leading cause of death in the country, following heart disease.

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