Cayenne pepper, also known as chili peppers, African pepper, capsicum fruit, and Zanzibar pepper, is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum, which is related to jalapenos, paprika, and bell peppers. These peppers contain a high concentration of capsaicin, a substance that has demonstrated an ability to kill prostate cancer cells.
Cayenne pepper for prostate cancer
Scientists in one 2007 study, for example, found that capsaicin slowed the growth of prostate cancer cells and prompted apoptosis, sometimes referred to as “cell suicide.” Investigators at Nottingham University suggest capsaicin kills cancer cells because it attacks the energy-producing part of cells, the mitochondria.
In a more recent (2016) report, experts took a closer look at how cayenne pepper, and capsicum in particular, kills prostate cancer cells. They determined that several actions were involved, including an increase in the levels of a specific protein (which is a marker of autophagy, or cells that devour or destroy themselves, such as prostate cancer cells) and an increase in lysosomes (organelles that contain enzymes which break down proteins), among other actions.
Cayenne pepper for men’s health
Capsaicin has demonstrated other advantages that can benefit men’s health. For example, there is evidence reviewed in a recent report (2017) that cayenne can help with weight loss in obese individuals. Since chili peppers can be included as part of the diet, they can easily be incorporated into one’s menu (with advice from a nutritionist) to help with weight loss.
Capsaicin also has shown an ability to reduce blood sugar (glucose) levels by increasing insulin levels, a property that can prove helpful for the tens of thousands of men who are battling diabetes. Lotions and creams containing capsaicin also can reduce the pain associated with arthritis and neuralgia.
Before using a cayenne supplement, consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider, as cayenne may cause stomach distress.
Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.
Athanasiou A et al. Vanilloid receptor agonists and antagonists are mitochondrial inhibitors: how vanilloids cause non-vanilloid receptor mediated cell death. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2007 Mar 2; 354(1): 50-55.
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.
Zhang S et al. Capsaicin reduces blood glucose by increasing insulin levels and glycogen content better than capsiate in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2017 Mar 22; 65(11): 2323-30
Zheng J et al. Dietary capsaicin and its anti-obesity potency: from mechanism to clinical implications. Bioscience Reports 2017 Jun 30