New Research Finds That This Spicy Molecule Kills Cancer Cells

It should be well known by now that about 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. While we wait and hope for a cure, researchers at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, have found hope in strange place – the spicy molecule that makes your favorite Thai dish ever so delicious.

Thai food chicken

It turns out that capsaicin (the molecule that makes peppers have that spicy kick) actually inhibits tumor growth in the most aggressive form of breast cancer: triple-negative breast cancer. Keep in mind that scientists have been able to classify breast cancer into three different subtypes depending on the presence of three receptors: estrogen, progesterone, and HER2. Triple-negative cancer lacks the presence of all three of these receptors and makes up about 15-20% of all breast cancer diagnoses.

red chili peppers

You may be thinking, “I eat spicy foods often…Why do I have breast cancer?” Truth is, it’s never going to be that simple: According to a press release from the university, “An intake via food or inhalation is insufficient for this purpose.” Instead, scientists could potentially create drugs that mimic capsaicin’s effect on tumor cells.

The study, which was published in the journal Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy, explores how this could be beneficial for many women. The Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Foundation reports that this type of breast cancer is often the hardest to treat, not responsive to anything other than chemotherapy.


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While we should rejoice in the news and look forward to a cure, it is crucial that we continue to spread awareness and encourage loved ones to check monthly for breast changes. Check out this stage IV cancer patient’s Facebook post that uses lemons to show what abnormal breast changes actually look like. You never know – it could save a life (even yours).

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