There has been a substantial body of data, supporting that dietary factors have a profound impact on prevention as well as etiology of human cancer. Capsaicin has been tested by many investigators for its effects on experimental carcinogenesis and mutagenesis. Data in the literature indicate that capsaicin has dual effects on carcinogenic and mutagenic processes. At present, there is no solid evidence that hot red and chili peppers or their principal pungent ingredient capsaicin are carcinogenic in humans although results of early investigations with experimental animals exhibit the moderate tumorigenicity of this compound. In contrast, recent studies reveal substantial antigenotoxic and anticarcinogenic effects of capsaicin, suggesting this compound as another important dietary phytochemical with a potential chemopreventive activity. Some pungent constituents present in ginger and other zingiberaceous plants have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and some of them exhibit anti-tumor promotional activity in experimental carcinogenesis.
Copyright 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.