Can hot peppers (capsaicin) cause cancer?

In some instances I’ve read about deleterious results (gastric and skin cancers) from capsaicin and hot peppers. See, for example this research:;

Dr. Greger, can you help in clearing up this confusion and debate? 

maybush1 / Originally posted on Are Chili Peppers Good For You?


The ScienceDaily piece you mentioned appears to deal just with rodents, so you may not want to share salsa with your pet mouse, but as a physician I have a bias towards human data. Veterinarians like to joke that us doctors are really just inadequate vets as we know only one species—I guess there’s some truth to that! :)

The Mexico study you mention did certainly give the medical community pause (when it was performed 20 years ago) but later studies (including data suggesting a cancer-fighting effect) led the most recent reviewers of the subject to conclude chili peppers are safe as I note in Are Chili Peppers Good For You?

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Image credit: PaulSteinJC / Flickr

Dr. Michael Greger

About Michael Greger M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

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  • Donna

    Taking baking soda daily to increase PH is dangerous or not ?

    • Don Forrester MD

      Taking small amounts of baking soda should not be harmful… of course you can overdue anything including water and tea… see Your body is designed to maintain the pH in the blood so you won’t have much effect on your pH. However by eating a plant based diet you will be loading your body with alot less acidic foods then the standard American diet. Animal products contain alot more sulfur containing amino acids which are much more acidic from the bodies perspective than plants. However the effect is not intuitive and somewhat complex as the body views citrus as alkaline and grains as mildly acidic. I generally don’t recommend taking baking soda to effect the bodies pH for most patients although there are studies to support this approach to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease see the video… for information on doses.

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