It’s no secret that we love us some Sriracha, and for good reason. It’s got just enough kick to light up our palette and make us sweat while scarfing down some juicy jerky, delicious ribs or mouth-watering wings. Not only that, apparently, it’s the spice of life! And now we have even more reason to douse our dinners with our favorite brand of hot sauce and chili peppers.
But that’s not all. In his own lab experiments using cancer cells, when Popovich puts capsaicin on top, cell growth is reduced. Scientists don’t know the mechanism by which capsaicin appears to work in the body. But one prominent theory, says Popovich, is that it triggers something called apoptosis: a kind of cell “suicide” that encourages the turnover of cells—some with mutations—to be recycled into new cells. “That’s one of the ways scientists think capsaicin and other active compounds in vegetables can prevent cancer development: by stimulating apoptotic cell death,” Popovich says.
So the next time you’re reaching for your favorite brand of tear inducing hot sauce, don’t skimp. After all, it could save your life.