Author(s): Bode AM, Dong Z
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Abstract Capsaicin (trans-8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) is the principal pungent component in hot peppers, including red chili peppers, jalapeños, and habaneros. Consumed worldwide, capsaicin has a long and convoluted history of controversy about whether its consumption or topical application is entirely safe. Conflicting epidemiologic data and basic research study results suggest that capsaicin can act as a carcinogen or as a cancer preventive agent. Capsaicin is unique among naturally occurring irritant compounds because the initial neuronal excitation evoked is followed by a long-lasting refractory period, during which the previously excited neurons are no longer responsive to a broad range of stimuli. This process is referred to as desensitization and has been exploited for its therapeutic potential. Capsaicin-containing creams have been in clinical use for many years to relieve a variety of painful conditions. However, their effectiveness in pain relief is also highly debated and some adverse side effects have been reported. We have found that chronic, long-term topical application of capsaicin increased skin carcinogenesis in mice treated with a tumor promoter. These results might imply that caution should be exercised when using capsaicin-containing topical applications in the presence of a tumor promoter, such as, for example, sunlight. ©2011 AACR.
This article was published in Cancer Res
and referenced in Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy