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Int J Cancer. 2003 Aug 20;106(2):277-82.

Capsaicin consumption, Helicobacter pylori positivity and gastric cancer in Mexico.

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Mexico National Institute of Public Health, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.


Gastric cancer (GC) incidence has not declined in Mexico. We assessed whether the intake of capsaicin (CAP), the pungent compound of chili peppers, increases the risk of GC independently of H. pylori positivity (Hp). From 1994 to 1996, a hospital-based case-control study was performed in 3 areas of Mexico; 234 cases of GC and 468 matched controls were enrolled and their diet and other characteristics were inquired. Chili pepper intake was queried by interview and CAP content of chilies was determined in a separate analysis by gas chromatography to estimate CAP intake; IGg Hp serum antibodies were determined by ELISA. The risk of GC was increased (OR = 1.71; 95% CI = 0.76-3.88) among high-level consumers of CAP (90-250 mg of capsaicin per day, approximately 9-25 jalapeño peppers per day) as compared to low-level consumers (0-29.9 mg of capsaicin per day, approximately 0 to less than 3 jalapeño peppers per day; p for trend p = 0.026); this effect was independent of Hp status and other potential GC determinants and was higher among diffuse GC cases (OR = 3.64; 95% CI = 1.09-12.2; p for trend = 0.002) compared to intestinal GC cases (OR = 1.36; 95% CI = 0.31-5.89; p for trend = 0.493). No significant interaction was found between CAP intake and Hp on GC risk. Chili pepper consumption might be an independent determinant of GC in Mexico.

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