Eating Chilis Reducing All-Cause Mortality 25%

December 13, 2020

Chili Pepper Consumption Reduces All-Cause Mortality 25%

Want a cheerful story during this bleak COVID pandemic? Tired of bad news? Ok, here is some wonderful news. You can reduce your mortality by eating chilis every day. This is not a joke. This is serious. This effect is basically as powerful as any other intervention we can do in our lives. What's the evidence?

Ok, the first study was from the American NHANES (National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey) cohort from 1988 to 1994 16,179 adults over age 18 in the US were included and then followed for a total of 273,877 person-years, averaging some 18+ years each. There were 4,946 total deaths to review. The mortality in chili consumers was 21.6%. Non-chili eaters had a 33.6% mortality. There you have it. That was the first study that caught my eye. That is an absolute 12% risk reduction or a relative 64% risk reduction, however you slice that "chili".

In response, study number two got more serious. Published in Circulation, this is now a much more prestigious journal and carries more PR value. A meta-analysis is a combination of all relevant research papers that follow statistically valid guidelines. Starting with 4,729 studies, only four met the rigorous standards. They include 570,762 subjects. Big numbers make for better conclusions. Again, the risk reduction was 25% of all-cause mortality.

There are more studies along this line. All show the same effect. Roughly 25%. How many times a week do you have to eat them? One study references four times. But it should be noted that all of these studies are "observational" meaning you are just looking at a population and slicing and dicing their behavior with statistical models. As Mark Twain said, "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics." A randomized, placebo-controlled trial has yet to be done. And never will be any time soon. No money in it. 

The physiology has to be something more fundamental in cell physiology. There are hints in the literature. In 2002 a report in JNCI was titled " ....Capsaicin...makes tumor cells commit suicide". And there is new research going right down to the most fundamental energy dynamics of cells: the NAD+/NADH ratio. Capsaicin rescues and stabilizes that in dying heart cells. Ah, that gets to the "heart" of it. We want you to take NAD+ and metformin to stabilize that ratio as you age and make less NAD. Chili's might do it for you too. Stay tuned! This is interesting stuff.

www.What will Work for me. I'm planning my gift list and finding things I can send in the mail during our COVID isolation. How about some form of Chili? Besides putting chili pepper in stews and curries, I have a collection of hot sauces. I just found something titled Spicy Chili Crisp that is milder and easier to add to all sorts of dishes.

References: Circulation, PLOS One, JACC, Harvard Health, JNCI, Oxid Med Cell Long, Eur Jr Pharm,

Pop Quiz

1.Where does chili pepper come from? Answer: The nightshade foods all came out of the new world with Bolivia and Peru having the most species of native plants. The Portuguese took them around the world. Everyone piled on!

2. Has anyone done any research on the hottest chili and whether they make you live longer? Answer: No. But you can watch the Netflix show "We Are the Champions" episode on Chili Contests in South Carolina and watch chili eating taken to absurdity.

3. How many days a week do you have to eat chilis? Answer: We have observational studies saying 4 days a week. 

4. Is this proof that chilis are a secret key to live longer? Answer: No. Not solid. Observational studies may be flawed in that the "observational" effect may actually be something else yet undetermined that goes with the chili eating. Perhaps it's the exercise you get running around fanning your mouth. Randomized, placebo-controlled trials are difficult to do over decades with millions of people. So, we live with some ambiguity.

5. Is there some identified physiology that would get to the root of why this might work? Answer: Yes, there is now emerging bench research showing the capsaicin fixes the most basic energetics in aging, cancerous, damaged cells: the NAD+/NADH ratio. So, it makes some sense.