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Ginger chili peppers could work together to lower cancer risk

By cwan | January 8th, 2018

Chili peppers are one of the very popular spices known for their medicinal and health benefiting properties. Chili pepper contains an impressive list of plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. Capsaicin, which gives them strong spicy, pungent character, has been shown to have anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. Fresh chili peppers, red and green, are a rich source of vitamin-C, an essential nutrient for the collagen synthesis inside the human body. Chili peppers are also good source of other antioxidants such as vitamin-A, and flavonoids like β-carotene, α-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin, as well as minerals such as potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.

Ginger is among the healthiest (and most delicious) spices on the planet. It is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful health benefits including protecting cardiovascular system, anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidation. The main active component, 6-gingerol, is the compound that gives ginger its unique spicy aroma and many health benefits

Both chili peppers and ginger are widely used spices in certain cuisines, particularly in Asia. However, some studies suggest that diets rich in capsaicin might be associated with stomach cancer. Oddly enough, capsaicin and 6-gingerol both bind to the same cellular receptor — one that is related to tumor growth. Researchers from Henan University (China) have decided to further investigate this apparent contradiction.

Over several weeks, the researchers fed mice prone to lung cancer either capsaicin or 6-gingerol alone, or a combination of both. During the study period, all of the mice that received only capsaicin developed lung carcinomas while only half of the mice fed 6-gingerol did. Surprisingly, an even lower percentage — only 20 percent — of the mice given both compounds developed cancer. The researchers also dug into the potential molecular underpinnings of how the compounds interact to lead to this effect.

It seems that the cancer-promoting effect of capsaicin was due to the increased level of EGFR (an enzyme), which is caused by the decreased level of TRPV1 (another enzyme). In contrast, 6-gingerol promoted TRPV1 level and therefore drastically decreased the level of EGFR. Essentially, 6-gingerol counteracts capsaicin’s effect by working on the exact the same biological pathway.

So what’s the take-home message? Eat chili with your ginger. Or, you can take some ginger infused gummy, Energon Qube Recover gummy https://seattlegummy.com/product/energon-qube-recover/.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan

Journal Reference: Shengnan Geng, Yaqiu Zheng, Mingjing Meng, Zhenzhen Guo, Ning Cao, Xiaofang Ma, Zhenhua Du, Jiahuan Li, Yongjian Duan, Gangjun Du. Gingerol Reverses the Cancer-Promoting Effect of Capsaicin by Increased TRPV1 Level in a Urethane-Induced Lung Carcinogenic Model. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2016; 64 (31): 6203 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b02480