Now breast cancer is a common type of cancer among women and men worldwide. According to the Breast Cancer report in 2016, 1 in 8 US women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life. It is estimated that 246,660 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in women in 2016, and 2600 cases of this cancer in men. Scientist has identified different sub types of breast cancer that respond to varying treatment types. Of these, the so-called triple-negative breast cancer is particularly aggressive and difficult to treat. However, new research may have uncovered a molecule that slows down this kind of cancer.
For women, breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer,besides lung cancer. Since this type of cancer is widely prevalent, scientists are constantly working on different studies to discover new ways to treat the severe disease effectively. The most recent research showed that chili pepper shows amazing potential.
The new research was carried out by Dr. Hanns Hatt and a team of researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum and the University of Cologne in Germany. Scientists were motivated by the existing research suggesting that several transient receptor potential (TRP) channels influence growth of cancer cells. TRP channels are defined as membranous ion channels that conduct sodium and calcium ions which are influenced by different stimuli including pH changes and temperature.
In the United States, breast cancer is also the most common form of cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Genetic research has enabled scientists to classify breast cancer into sub types, which respond differently to various kinds of treatment. These sub types are categorized according to the presence or absence of three receptors that are known to promote breast cancer:estrogen, progesterone, and the epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).
Breast cancers that test positively for HER2 typically respond well to treatment and even to some specific drugs.However, there are types of cancer that test negatively for HER2, as well as for estrogen and progesterone - this is called triple-negative breast cancer.
As some studies have shown,triple-negative cancer is more difficult to treat, with chemotherapy being the only option.
Testing the effect of spicy molecule on cancer cells
The researchers tested the effect of an active ingredient commonly found in chili or pepper - called capsaicin - onSUM149PT cell culture, which is a model for triple-negative breast cancer.
The scientists were motivated by existing research, which suggests that several transient receptor potential(TRP) channels influence cancer cell growth. As the authors explain, TRP channels are membranous ion channels that conduct calcium and sodium ions, and which can be influenced by several stimuli including temperature or pH changes.
One of the TRP channels that play a significant role in the development of several diseases - and received a great deal of attention from researchers - is the olfactory receptor TRPV1.
Capsaicin has also been shown to induce cell death and inhibit cancer cell growth in several types of cancer,including colon and pancreatic cancer.
In this new study, the researchers aimed to investigate the expression of TRP channels in a vast amount of breast cancer tissue, as well as to analyze and understand how TRPV1 could be used in breast cancer therapy.
How capsaicin activates TRPV1
Researchers found several typical olfactory receptors in the cultivated cells. Olfactory receptors are proteins that bind smell molecules together and are located on olfactory receptor cells lining the nose.
The scientists found that the TRPV1receptor appeared very frequently. TRPV1 is normally found in the fifth cranial nerve, which is called the trigeminal nerve.
This olfactory receptor is activated by the spicy molecule capsaicin as well as by helional - a chemical compound giving the scent of fresh sea breeze.
Dr. Hatt and team found TRPV1 in the tumor cells of nine different samples from breast cancer patients.
Researchers added capsaicin and helional to the culture for several hours or days. This activated the TRPV1receptor in the cell culture.
As a result of TRPV1 being activated, the cancer cells died more slowly.Additionally, tumor cells died in larger numbers, and the remaining ones weren't able to move as quickly as before. This suggests that their ability to metastasize was reduced.
The findings were published in “Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy”.
Breast Cancer Facts
- On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer
- On average, every 13 minutes one woman dies due to this severe disease
- More than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the US today
- According to the WHO, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women worldwide
- More than 95% of all breast cancers occur in women older than 40
- Thanks to early detection, breast cancer deaths are on decline since 1990
The success of the breast cancer treatment depends on the early detection through regular self-checks.
Capsaicin uses for breast cancer treatment
The authors note that an intake of capsaicin through food or inhalation would be insufficient to treat triple-negative cancer. However, specially designed drugs might help.
"If we could switch on theTRPV1 receptor with specific drugs, this might constitute a new treatment approach for this type of cancer," says Dr. Hanns Hatt, lead study author.
Breast cancer affects millions of women around the world which stresses the importance of constant studies on this subject.Scientists from Germany discovered that spiced molecule i.e. capsaicin, an active compound found in chili peppers, activated the TRPV1 receptor and slowed down the progression of cancer. This is particularly beneficial for cases of invasive cancer, but scientists emphasize that more research should be conducted to inspect this link thoroughly. This comes as no wonder because capsaicin is associated with a multitude of health benefits including cancer prevention properties.