According to a new study compounds responsible for heat dissipation in chili peppers may help slow the spread of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in men and women. Most cancer-related deaths are associated with the spread of cancer to distant organs, a process known as metastasis.
“Lung cancer and other cancers usually metastasize to areas such as the brain, liver or bones, so it is difficult to treat.” Jamie Friedman, a Ph.D. in Dr. Piyali Dasgupta’s Laboratory at the Joan C. Edward School of Medicine at Marshall University, said, “our research shows that capsaicin, a natural compound extracted from chili peppers, can be used as a new treatment to combat metastasis in patients with lung cancer.” Friedman presented the study at the Annual meeting of the American Society for Investigative Pathology during the Experimental Biology Conference in Orlando, Florida, from April 6 to 9, 2019.
In experiments involving three cultured human non-small cell lung cancer cells, the researchers found that capsaicin inhibited the invasion of cancer cells, the first step in the metastasis of cancer cells. They also found that mice fed capsaicin had smaller areas of metastatic cancer cells in their lungs than untreated mice. Additional experiments have shown that capsaicin inhibits lung cancer metastasis by inhibiting the activation of Src protein. This protein plays a role in signal transduction that controls cell proliferation, differentiation, movement, and adhesion.
“We hope that one-day capsaicin will be combined with other chemotherapy to treat a variety of lung cancer. However, clinical use of capsaicin requires overcoming its unpleasant side effects, including gastrointestinal irritation, stomach spasms, and burning sensation. ”
Capsaicin, one of the main spicy components in red pepper, has recently been shown to induce apoptosis in a variety of malignant cell lines, including colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, prostate cancer, breast cancer and so on. Researchers are trying to identify capsaicin analogs that are non-irritating while retaining capsaicin’s antitumor activity. They are also trying to identify natural non-irritating capsaicin compounds with anticancer activities.