Individuals who consume chili peppers may live longer and may have a significantly reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020.

Previous studies have found eating chili pepper has an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and blood-glucose regulating effect due to capsaicin, which gives chili pepper its characteristic mild to intense spice when eaten.

To analyze the effects of chili pepper on all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality, researchers screened 4729 studies from 5 leading global health databases: Ovid, Cochrane, Medline, Embase, and Scopus. Their final analysis incorporated 4 large studies that included health outcomes for participants with data on chili pepper consumption.

The health and dietary records of more than 570,000 individuals in the United States, Italy, China, and Iran were used to compare the outcomes of those who consumed chili pepper with those who rarely or never ate chili pepper. Compared with individuals who rarely or never ate it, the analysis found that people who ate chili pepper had a 26% relative reduction in cardiovascular mortality, a 23% relative reduction in cancer mortality, and a 25% relative reduction in all-cause mortality.

“We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all cause, CVD and cancer mortality. It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health,” said senior author Bo Xu, MD, in a press release. “The exact reasons and mechanisms that might explain our findings, though, are currently unknown. Therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say that eating more chili pepper can prolong life and reduce deaths, especially from cardiovascular factors or cancer. More research, especially evidence from randomized controlled studies, is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.”

The study authors said that there are several limitations to this type of analysis, as the 4 studies reviewed included limited specific health data on individuals or other factors that may have influenced the findings. Further, they noted that the amount of chili pepper consumed was variable among the studies, making it difficult to draw conclusions about exactly how much, how often, and which type of chili pepper consumption may be associated with health benefits.

REFERENCE
People who eat chili pepper may live longer? American Heart Association. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/people-who-eat-chili-pepper-may-live-longer. Published November 9, 2020. Accessed November 13, 2020.