Could chili peppers reduce the risk of colorectal cancer?

The research team, including senior author Dr. Eyal Raz, professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine, found that capsaicin activated a pain receptor called TRPV1 in mice, which reduced tumor development in their gut.

TRPV1 was first discovered in sensory neurons, the researchers say, where it protects the cells against potential damage from heat, acidity and spicy chemicals in the environment.

“Thus,” says Dr. Raz. “TRPV1 was quickly described as a molecular ‘pain receptor.’ This can be considered to be its conventional function, which all takes place in the nervous system.”