Cayenne peppers provide capsaicin, a substance that has demonstrated its cancer fighting abilities in several areas. In one laboratory study from 2007, for example, capsaicin slowed the growth of prostate cancer cells and prompted apoptosis (cell suicide), while a subsequent study found similar results regarding apoptosis and prostate cancer cells.
The authors of a 2016 study found that capsaicin caused prostate cancer cell death and improved several other factors that promoted inhibition of prostate cancer as well.
Lung cancer is common among men, and investigators at Marshall University in West Virginia recently reported that “capsaicin could be useful in the therapy of human SCLC [small cell lung cancer].” Capsaicin also appears to have a role in fighting stomach cancer, as a recent study found. When capsaicin was added to conventional medical treatment (the anticancer drug, cisplatin), the capsaicin prompted apoptosis of cisplatin-resistant stomach cancer cells.
Brown KC et al. Capsaicin displays anti-proliferative activity against human small cell lung cancer in cell culture and nude mice models via the E2F pathway. PLoS One 2010 Apr 20; 5(4): e10243
Huh HC et al. Capsaicin induces apoptosis of cisplatin-resistant stomach cancer cells by causing degradation of cisplatin-inducible Aurora-A protein. Nutr Cancer 2011 Oct; 63(7): 1095-103
Ramos-Torres A et al. The pepper’s natural ingredient capsaicin induces autophagy blockage in prostate cancer cells. Oncotarget 2016 Jan 12; 7(2): 1569-83
Sanchez AM et al. Apoptosis induced by capsaicin in prostate PC-3 cells involves ceramide accumulation, neutral sphingomyelinase, and JNK activation. Apoptosis 2007; 12(11): 2013-24.
Ziglioli F et al. Vanilloid-mediated apoptosis in prostate cancer cells through a TRPV-1 dependent and a TRPV-1-independent mechanism. Acta Biomed 2009 Apr; 80(1): 13-20