Cancer News Network

Cancer Awareness , Developments in Cancer Research and News on Cancer

Friday, January 12, 2007

Chillies can fight cancerous tumors! The chemical in chillies that makes them hot to taste could be used to combat cancerous tumors, a new study has found.

Dr Andrew Westwell, a senior lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry at the Welsh School of Pharmacy, said the chemical compound capsaicin, that gives spicy food like curry its kick, could hold the key to the next generation of anti-cancer drugs that will kill tumours.

He was an adviser in a study, published in the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications that has proven for the first time that capsaicin can kill cells by directly targeting their energy source.

Working in collaboration with the University of Nottingham, Dr Westwell said the beauty of the laboratory test discovery was that the compound would have few or no side effects for the patient.

It could also mean that patients could control or prevent the onset of cancer by eating a diet rich in capsaicin. Dr Westwell said, "We found that in cancer cells grown in the lab, capsaicin can be a signalling mechanism that instructs cancer cells to die, without the nasty effects of chemotherapy, such as affecting healthy cells or changing DNA.

"But with any potential new drug it needs to be thoroughly tried and tested for around 10 years - although the advantage we do have is that chillies are already eaten by many people and are known to be safe."
Dr Timothy Bates, a member of the Medical Research Council (MRC) College of Experts, said the research team also tested similar compounds on pancreatic cancer, producing similar cell death to that observed with lung cancer cells.

These results are highly significant, as pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to treat and has a five-year survival rate of less than 1%.


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