If you enjoy spicy peppers, you've had capsaicin. You can find this compound in every part of the pepper, except the seed. The health benefits of capsaicin include aiding weight loss and easing chronic pain. As a pain remedy, capsaicin works by binding to the TRPV1 receptor that is signaled when there is heat in the body, be it from capsaicin or from the burning that results from physical injury. The TRPV1 receptor sends the brain a signal that a burning event has happened, and the brain's mild inflammatory reaction repairs cells it thinks are damaged.
Capsaicin is believed to be effective in the fight against different types of cancer, including prostate and breast. In studies, taking capsaicin by mouth stopped prostate cancer cells from spreading and, in some cases, killed the cells completely. The compound has also been found to kill breast cancer stem cells, which typically remain after other cancer cells have died and are behind the high recurrence rates of breast cancer. Other cancer-related illnesses that capsaicin can fight include H. pylori-induced gastritis that leads to gastric cancer, primary effusion lymphoma or PEL, which is associated with HIV, and lung tumors. Capsaicin creams can help cancer patients deal with mouth sores from chemotherapy and radiation.
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