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As reported on the BBC News website, a Nottingham University study found that capsaicin, an ingredient found in chili peppers, has the ability to trigger the death of cancer cells. Capsaicin does this by attacking the mitochondria (mitochrondria can be thought of as cellular power plants) of cancer cells.

According to Dr. Timothy Bates, a single dose of capsaicin could force a cancer cell into apoptosis, or cell death. A capsaicin dose could do this without affecting the surrounding normal cells.

Dr. Bates went on to speculate that capsaicin might potentially be used in a topical form for the treament of certain skin cancers (though the Nottingham study tested capsaicin on human cultures of lung tumors and tumors of the pancreas).

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