A Chili Pepper That Fights Against the Most Aggressive Form of Breast Cancer?
A study conducted at Ruhr University in Germany lead by Dr. Hanns Hatt and Dr. Lea Weber, suggests a compound in chili peppers can help to slow down the growth rate of tumor cells in triple-negative breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women today. Triple-negative breast cancer is a subtype of breast cancer that the cells growth is directly correlated to the hormone estrogen. Is it the most aggressive type of breast cancer to find treatment for due to its lack of the three receptors that promote breast cancer, hence the name: triple-negative breast cancer.
These three receptors are the growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2), estrogen receptors (ER), and progesterone receptors (PR). Any type of breast cancer that test positively for HER-2 tend to have a better response to treatments and medical drugs than those cancers which do not test positively for HER-2.
Because triple-negative breast cancer does not have any of these receptors, it doesn’t respond too well to hormone therapy or medical drug treatments. Chemotherapy, on the other hand, does still have an effect on this type of cancer, and if caught in the early stages, can respond even better to chemotherapy than other cancers.
A spicy compound of the chili pepper known as capsaicin was tested and has shown evidence of killing cells and halting their growth. The researchers were motivated to further test this compound due to other studies conducted in the past.
Previous studies have suggested that this compound has an effect on TRP (transient receptor potential) channels which can be influenced by changes in temperature or pH levels. TRPV1 is one of these TRP channels.
The researchers discovered that TRPV1 can be activated with capsaicin (the active compound found in the chili pepper) and helional (a chemical compound commonly used in soaps and laundry detergents used for its fresh scent). The researchers tested this combination on samples of the breast cancer cells which in turn activated TRPV1. Once TRPV1 was activated, the cells died much more slowly, tumor cells died in a substantial amount, and any remaining cancer cells were not able to move or function as quickly as they previously had.
The authors of the study make a note that simply ingesting capsaicin wouldn’t be sufficient enough to trigger the same effects of the study, however, a specially designed drug could help. One of the lead researchers Dr. Hanns Hatt closes with saying:
“If we could switch on the TRPV1 receptor with specific drugs, this might constitute a new treatment approach for this type of cancer.”
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