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Med Hypotheses. 2002 Oct;59(4):450-7.

Capsaicin pepper, cancer and ethnicity.

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Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111-5120, USA.


The 'hot' sensation produced by exposure to pepper is apparently due to two natural carcinogens: capsaicin in chili type peppers and safrole in black/white pepper. There are four cookeries in the United States that are noted for their high pepper content: Mexican-American, Cajun, white Creole, and black Creole. Each is largely confined to a single ethnic-cultural group which is concentrated in some counties. By use of county population and mortality data, significantly higher rates for stomach and liver cancer were found in counties inhabited by these four ethnic-cultural groups than in matched control counties. This involved both sexes. The cancer increase was dependent on the concentration of these groups in a county. These results strengthen and extend an earlier case-control study which found odds ratios above 5 for the stomach cancer association with capsaicin pepper. It is further evidence that capsaicin is a human carcinogen.

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