spicy foods

Study reports that consuming spicy food several times per week can reduce risk of death from all causes, and cause-specific death from cancer, ischemic heart diseases, and respiratory diseases.


A study published in the British Medical Journal has reported on the link between eating spicy foods and causes of death in 199 293 men and 288 082 women. The participants reported on the frequency of spicy food intake.

The researchers found that higher intakes of spicy food were associated with reductions in mortality in the study population. The results were dose dependent, in that, death rates decreased with increasing intervals of spicy food consumption. When comparing participants levels of spicy food intake, the researchers found a 14% relative risk reduction in mortality in participants who reported consuming spicy foods 6-7 days a week, compared with those who reported consuming spicy foods less than once a week. The researchers also reported a reduction in death specifically from cancer, ischemic heart diseases, and respiratory diseases in participants who consumed higher levels of spicy foods.

The researchers suggest that the effects may be mediated through bioactive ingredients such as capsaicin, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin B6. Interestingly, the researchers found a stronger correlation between reductions in cause-specific mortality in participants who reported consuming fresh chilli pepper, rather than non-fresh forms, such as chilli sauce or chilli oil. This supports the role for bioactive ingredients in the observed effects, which are present at higher concentrations in fresh chilli pepper.

The researchers state however, that because the study is observational in nature, it cannot draw conclusions as to the cause of the effects observed. They suggest the need for future prospective studies to confirm these findings, and perhaps lead to dietary recommendations, and/or development of herbal supplements to promote health and longevity.




Lv, K, Qi, L, Yu, C, Yang, L, Guo, Y, Chen, Y, Bian, Z, Sun, D, Du, J, Ge, P, Tang, Z, Hou, W, Li, Y, Chen, J, Chen, Z, Li, L. on behalf of the China Kadoorie Biobank collaborative group “Consumption of spicy foods and total and cause specific mortality: population based cohort study” British Medical Journal 2015; 351 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h3942 (Published 04 August 2015)

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net








Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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