Chili-Pepper Consumption

Regular consumption of chili pepper is associated with a significant reduction in all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer-related mortalities, according to a systematic review of previous studies.

Chili peppers contain a phenolic compound called capsaicin. Image credit: Hans Braxmeier.

Chili peppers contain a phenolic compound called capsaicin. Image credit: Hans Braxmeier.

“Chili pepper is well known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and blood glucose regulation effects due to capsaicin, which gives chili pepper its characteristic mild to intense spice when eaten,” said Dr. Bo Xu from the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular Thoracic Institute and colleagues.

“However, the impact of chili pepper on all-cause and cardiovascular mortality is not clear.”

In a systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers screened 4,729 studies from five leading global health databases (Ovid, Cochrane, Medline, Embase and Scopus).

They selected four large studies that included health outcomes for participants with data on chili pepper consumption.

The health and dietary records of more than 570,000 individuals in the United States, Italy, China and Iran were used to compare the outcomes of those who consumed chili pepper to those who rarely or never ate chili pepper.

Compared to individuals who rarely or never ate chili pepper, the scientists found that people who ate chili pepper had: a 26% relative reduction in cardiovascular mortality, a 23% relative reduction in cancer mortality, and a 25% relative reduction in all-cause mortality.

“We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all cause, CVD and cancer mortality,” Dr. Xu said.

“It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health.”

“The exact reasons and mechanisms that might explain our findings, though, are currently unknown.”

“Therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say that eating more chili pepper can prolong life and reduce deaths, especially from cardiovascular factors or cancer.”

“More research, especially evidence from randomized controlled studies, is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.”

The authors presented their results November 13, 2020 at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020.

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Manpreet Kaur et al. Impact of Chilli-pepper Intake on All-cause and Cardiovascular Mortality — A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. AHA20, abstract # P1036

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