Study finds association between eating hot peppers and decreased mortality

January 13, 2017, University of Vermont
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Like spicy food? If so, you might live longer, say researchers at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, who found that consumption of hot red chili peppers is associated with a 13 percent reduction in total mortality - primarily in deaths due to heart disease or stroke—in a large prospective study.

The study was published recently in PLoS ONE.

Going back for centuries, peppers and spices have been thought to be beneficial in the treatment of diseases, but only one other study—conducted in China and published in 2015 - has previously examined chili pepper consumption and its association with mortality. This new study corroborates the earlier study's findings.

Using National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III data collected from more than 16,000 Americans who were followed for up to 23 years, medical student Mustafa Chopan '17 and Professor of Medicine Benjamin Littenberg, M.D., examined the baseline characteristics of the participants according to hot red chili pepper consumption. They found that consumers of hot red chili peppers tended to be "younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, and to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and consume more vegetables and meats . . . had lower HDL-cholesterol, lower income, and less education," in comparison to participants who did not consume red chili peppers. They examined data from a median follow-up of 18.9 years and observed the number of deaths and then analyzed specific causes of death.

"Although the mechanism by which peppers could delay mortality is far from certain, Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels, which are primary receptors for pungent agents such as capsaicin (the principal component in chili peppers), may in part be responsible for the observed relationship," say the study authors.

There are some possible explanations for red chili peppers' health benefits, state Chopan and Littenberg in the study. Among them are the fact that capsaicin - the principal component in - is believed to play a role in cellular and molecular mechanisms that prevent obesity and modulate , and also possesses antimicrobial properties that "may indirectly affect the host by altering the gut microbiota."

"Because our study adds to the generalizability of previous findings, chili pepper—or even - consumption may become a dietary recommendation and/or fuel further research in the form of clinical trials," says Chopan.

Explore further: Eat spicy, live longer? Study says yes

More information: Mustafa Chopan et al. The Association of Hot Red Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort Study, PLOS ONE (2017). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169876 , journals.plos.org/plosone/arti … journal.pone.0169876

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6 comments

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betterexists
1 / 5 (1) Jan 13, 2017
Why not try it on Caenorhabditis elegans roundworm and Fruit Fly, D. melanogaster?
Whydening Gyre
4.7 / 5 (3) Jan 14, 2017
Nice. Me and jalapenos go way back...
wimplewurm
1 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2017
roundworm and fruit fly over maggots and moth larvae?? never!
aksdad
5 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2017
I think the term is "decreased mortality rate" which means fewer people die in a specific period of time, rather than "decreased mortality" which means fewer people die, which also doesn't make sense since everybody dies. Of course if eating hot chili peppers makes me immortal (I won't die) then I am seriously interested.
FredJose
not rated yet Jan 16, 2017
Problem with living longer and even being immortal is that with age a lot of things go wrong in the body because of deterioration of the genome.
So it's actually better not to live past 70 years of age unless your health is in tip top shape with no physical problems whatsoever - no arthritis, no organ problems, no hip problems, no blood pressure/ arterial problems, no eyesight or hearing problems, cancer etc.
Old age is not for the faint-hearted.
Immortality is over rated in a world where you have to deal with the real problems of old age, increasing crime, waning moral standards and increasing isolation.
Much better is to make sure you are at peace with your maker and live life to the full.
Dug
not rated yet Jan 16, 2017
The study contradicts most basic demographic health studies regarding heritage, their traditional overall diets and related mortality studies on these and numerous other aspects - and so it is not likely to be accurate. Especially when compared to other anti-inflammatory inputs other than capsaicin. Anti-inflammatory usage in general have long been shown to extend lifespans compared to those with no anti-inflammatory usage particularly with cardiovascular and cancer diseases when compared to other with otherwise similar lifestyles. Additionally, there is a rather large body of information on capsaicin that has produced no suggestions of significant longevity extension abilities that this study suggests.

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