Mice study shows chilli & ginger cancer-battling properties

By Eliot Beer

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/Maya23K
©iStock/Maya23K

Related tags: Cancer

Consuming gingerol and capsaicin together could combat cancer, with gingerol counteracting capsaicin’s carcinogenic effects, according to a new study on mice.

Chinese researchers hypothesised that the long-term effects of gingerol and capsaicin, the main pungent and spicy compounds in ginger and chilli peppers respectively, on the TRPV1 receptor were the cause of their pro-carcinogenic or anti-carcinogenic properties.

Over 20 weeks they injected mice with urethane, known to cause adenocarcinoma, a lung cancer – then fed rats capsaicin in olive oil, gingerol in olive oil, capsaicin and gingerol in olive oil, or just olive oil on its own as a control. Mice received 50mg/kg body weight of capsaicin or gingerol.

While the control group saw a 70% incidence of carcinoma, the capsaicin-only group had a 100% incident rate, and the gingerol-only group had a 50% carcinoma rate.

Combination cuts cancer rate

However the group receiving gingerol and capsaicin together had only a 20% incident rate of carcinoma.

Our results suggested that the combination of gingerol and capsaicin not only reduced the risk of capsaicin carcinogenesis but also synergistically prevented urethane-induced lung carcinogenesis​,” wrote the authors of the study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry​.

chili pepper, spicy, piment, Droits d'auteur  wasan gredpree
©iStock

This finding opens a new avenue for to counteract the capsaicin-related adverse health factors due to consumption of chili and represents a novel strategy in cancer chemoprevention​.”

Both capsaicin and gingerol act on the TRPV1 receptor, and capsaicin has been linked to higher incidence of cancers, particularly stomach cancer.

6-Gingerol […] is the predominant pungent constituent of fresh ginger and is also an agonist of TRPV1, and 6-gingerol has received much attention regarding cancer prevention but has never been reported to be carcinogenic​,” noted the authors.

Those [explanations] of how both capsaicin and 6-gingerol are agonists of TRPV1 but have opposite effects on cancer activities remains unclear​,” they added.

Gingerol corrects signalling, cuts inflammation

Following their study, the researchers came to three main conclusions: first, and unexpectedly, the capsaicin-gingerol combination can reverse the cancer-promoting effects of capsaicin, “suggesting a corrective role of gingerol in malfunctioning molecules along the disrupted signal transduction pathway during carcinogenesis​”.

They also showed gingerol reversed the pro-inflammatory and oxidative stress-promoting effect of capsaicin during lung carcinogenesis.

Finally, we showed that gingerol reversed the efficacy of capsaicin in the lung protein levels of TRPV1, EGFR, NF-κB and cyclin D1, and also reversed the pro-proliferation and EMT-promoting effects of capsaicin during lung carcinogenesis, indicating the major carcinogenic effect of capsaicin and anti-carcinogenic effect of gingerol​,” the authors wrote.

 

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b02480

Gingerol Reverses the Cancer-Promoting Effect of Capsaicin by Increased TRPV1 Level in a Urethane-Induced Lung Carcinogenic Model​”

Authors: Geng, S. et al

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