A medical case for 'hotness'

This came up in my feed today, and while it isn’t our usual fare about “heat”, but given the benefits touted by the study, I thought it was a good fit for our “curious things” section. The ‘heat’ adds years to life.

From the UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT and the department of flaming hot, comes this study:

Study finds association between eating hot peppers and decreased mortality

Like spicy food? If so, you might live longer, say researchers at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, who found that consumption of hot red chili peppers is associated with a 13 percent reduction in total mortality – primarily in deaths due to heart disease or stroke — in a large prospective study.

The study was published recently in PLoS ONE.

Going back for centuries, peppers and spices have been thought to be beneficial in the treatment of diseases, but only one other study — conducted in China and published in 2015 – has previously examined chili pepper consumption and its association with mortality. This new study corroborates the earlier study’s findings.

Using National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III data collected from more than 16,000 Americans who were followed for up to 23 years, medical student Mustafa Chopan ’17 and Professor of Medicine Benjamin Littenberg, M.D., examined the baseline characteristics of the participants according to hot red chili pepper consumption. They found that consumers of hot red chili peppers tended to be “younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, and to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and consume more vegetables and meats . . . had lower HDL-cholesterol, lower income, and less education,” in comparison to participants who did not consume red chili peppers. They examined data from a median follow-up of 18.9 years and observed the number of deaths and then analyzed specific causes of death.

“Although the mechanism by which peppers could delay mortality is far from certain, Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels, which are primary receptors for pungent agents such as capsaicin (the principal component in chili peppers), may in part be responsible for the observed relationship,” say the study authors.

There are some possible explanations for red chili peppers’ health benefits, state Chopan and Littenberg in the study. Among them are the fact that capsaicin – the principal component in chili peppers – is believed to play a role in cellular and molecular mechanisms that prevent obesity and modulate coronary blood flow, and also possesses antimicrobial properties that “may indirectly affect the host by altering the gut microbiota.”

“Because our study adds to the generalizability of previous findings, chili pepper — or even spicy food – consumption may become a dietary recommendation and/or fuel further research in the form of clinical trials,” says Chopan.


They didn’t include the paper in the press release, so I dug it out:


The Association of Hot Red Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort Study


The evidence base for the health effects of spice consumption is insufficient, with only one large population-based study and no reports from Europe or North America. Our objective was to analyze the association between consumption of hot red chili peppers and mortality, using a population-based prospective cohort from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III, a representative sample of US noninstitutionalized adults, in which participants were surveyed from 1988 to 1994. The frequency of hot red chili pepper consumption was measured in 16,179 participants at least 18 years of age. Total and cause-specific mortality were the main outcome measures. During 273,877 person-years of follow-up (median 18.9 years), a total of 4,946 deaths were observed. Total mortality for participants who consumed hot red chili peppers was 21.6% compared to 33.6% for those who did not (absolute risk reduction of 12%; relative risk of 0.64). Adjusted for demographic, lifestyle, and clinical characteristics, the hazard ratio was 0.87 (P = 0.01; 95% Confidence Interval 0.77, 0.97). Consumption of hot red chili peppers was associated with a 13% reduction in the instantaneous hazard of death. Similar, but statistically nonsignificant trends were seen for deaths from vascular disease, but not from other causes. In this large population-based prospective study, the consumption of hot red chili pepper was associated with reduced mortality. Hot red chili peppers may be a beneficial component of the diet.

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January 16, 2017 11:02 am

“The evidence base for the health effects of spice consumption is insufficient”…. got to love the habanero anyway.

January 16, 2017 11:05 am

The conclusion I draw from this study is that eating hot peppers makes you younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and leads to lower income, and less education/

george e. smith
Reply to  Dan
January 16, 2017 1:40 pm

What did the base line group eat instead of spicy foods.
Some “cuisines” are so horrible that if you don’t spice them up, you probably don’t eat right anyway.
Spicy foods seem to be the thing of third world regions.
Could be they are looking at precisely the wrong things.

Reply to  george e. smith
January 16, 2017 1:53 pm

tends to hide gamey and spoiled….

Reply to  george e. smith
January 16, 2017 2:00 pm

The Nhanes 3 study is an exhaustive long list of foodstuffs. Milk is different than chocolate milk. . Broccoli different than cabbage , fish different than shrimp, cereal different than oatmeal, tapwater different than filtered tap water. Spaghetti different than pizza (well, true, that). Foods list is three single spaced pages 52-54 in the baseline description. The baseline took 6 years to construct. Geographically, economically, racially, sex, age diversified. Exhaustive interview including parent/sibling/child illness history in a host of categories. Detailed medical history plus full participant medical exam including full bloodwork, BMI, resting heartrate, blood pressure.
Just the description of the baseline data (not the data itself) runs 462 pages. Very well done, in my opinion. Pity this chili pepper paper using it is so flawed. See comments below.

Reply to  Dan
January 16, 2017 2:31 pm

You left out the hidden data; it also leads to speaking Spanish!
Obviously Big Language (Schools) is controlling the agenda here, trying to stop people’s dependence on them for learning language being diminished.

Reply to  Dan
January 16, 2017 2:35 pm

George may have gotten it correct. “Could be they are looking at precisely the wrong things.”
There are far too many unaccounted variables that would have an effect on longevity than to pinpoint spicy peppers as the fountain of youth. This is a casebook example of leaping to conclusions regarding causational relationships.
This the sort of “science” that establishes wives’ tales.

Reply to  rocketscientist
January 16, 2017 3:27 pm

How did you know my wife has a tail ?

Reply to  rocketscientist
January 16, 2017 4:44 pm

Also known as “Junk Science.” I’m sure you can find correlations between living in wood-frame houses or driving blue Subarus and the disease of your choice, too, if you trawl enough data.

January 16, 2017 11:07 am

These studies are usually junk, as the authors have problems to understand that correlation does not imply causation.
Consumers of high levels of hot red chili peppers (not the band) might have a different genetic background on average. If that is the case the study is flawed unless you account for it.

Reply to  Javier
January 16, 2017 11:43 am

I agree with the junk assessment. Usually the words “nutritional”, “nutritionist” etc. put the junkometer into overdrive. The authors may be aware that correlation does not imply causation. That is well hammered into the heads of most would-be researchers, though some choose to ignore it. However one element of experimental design which seems to be slipping beneath the waves of language blurring is the concept of “control”. It is commonplace now to see researchers refer to one of their treatments as a control while the experiment itself may have any number of uncontrolled confounding factors. Even though the experiment may have what is called a “control”, it may in fact be an uncontrolled experiment. In large scale observational studies of humans, there tend to be numerous confounding factors which cannot be controlled. The authors have tried to remove some of those by adjusting for lifestyle, demographics and clinical factors. However, I would be far from confident that they could account for all the confounding factors or that the adjustments applied were precise enough to unbiasedly remove the effects of the confounding factors. There is a reason that observational studies need to be followed up by replicated and controlled studies before too much gum flapping takes place. But requiring control and replication would place an unfair burden on the junk science industry.

Reply to  BCBill
January 16, 2017 1:26 pm

I know of a study where the raw data showed a particular health-related correlation. The researcher then took 54 possible socioeconomic confounding factors into account, found the correlation still held, and then published — claiming, incidentally, nothing but correlation. Or, well, I guess he also concluded that more research in this area should prove interesting.
The correlation in question violated accepted understanding. His paper, however, was received well enough: his critics, finding no fault with either his data or his methods, merely suggested yet other confounding factors.
The author returned to his data, worked it over in the light of 96 possibly-confounding factors, still found the original correlation to hold, and republished (again, claiming nothing more than “this is interesting”).
The critical response was the same, with still more factors that could be skewing the data.
Last I heard, during a talk he gave, he was about to publish a third time, having taken over 130 possibly-confounding factors into account (and still the original correlation held — and of course it is still just a correlation).
I mention this partly from my awe: I have a hard time naming even a dozen such variables to account for.
The other reason is this: if his original data had shown what everyone expected to see, it would still be correlation, all those 130+ confounding factors would still exist and still might be skewing things (just in the other direction) — but who would have raised any objection?

Reply to  BCBill
January 16, 2017 1:31 pm

Mellyn, for a fun counterexample see ‘Speed Kills’ in mynebook The Arts of Truth. Other more serious examples in the book include HRT and eggs.

Reply to  Javier
January 16, 2017 11:54 am

As Dan points out above, people who consume hot peppers tend to have characteristics that lead to a shorter life. That leads me to one of two conclusions (because I’m too busy to actually dig into the study):
1 – Hot peppers are really amazingly effective and can counteract the effects of things like smoking.
2 – The study’s authors carefully controlled for all the variables.
I would be truly astounded if hot peppers could counteract the effects of smoking. That leads me to think conclusion 2 above is the correct one.

Reply to  commieBob
January 16, 2017 12:59 pm

3 – The study is junk as 90% of this type of studies an the conclusions are invalid.
[Disclosure: Study paid by the Association of Red Hot Chili Peppers Producers]

John G.
January 16, 2017 11:08 am

I already have a good education and make plenty of money so sign me up.

Pamela Gray
January 16, 2017 11:10 am

This paper gave me more heartburn from reading it than I get from eating chili peppers.

Reply to  Pamela Gray
January 16, 2017 11:59 am


January 16, 2017 11:28 am

Oh for heaven’s sake! Utter and complete “epidemiology-gone-mad” nonsense. The study finds nothing meaningful whatever. It is absolutely invalid to use the NHANES data-base in this way — selecting a single diet item (out of all the possibilities) and then running all-cause death….stupid stupid stupid.
We see this same disease in Climate Science all the time — some ecological change, perfectly normal and expected over a period of time, is compared with the Global Average Surface Temperature and an effect declared.
Somebody needs to save us from the Epidemiologists…and teach them logic, statistics, theories of causation….

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 16, 2017 1:20 pm

Kip, its much worse (simply stupid) than that. I just posted details in a comment below.

January 16, 2017 11:28 am

Consumption of hot red chili peppers was associated with a 13% reduction in the instantaneous hazard of death.
What, exactly, is “instantaneous hazard of death”? Getting hit by a car? Falling off a bridge? Getting shot? Heart attack? What? How would red hot peppers reduce chances of getting hit by a car?

Jim G1
Reply to  davidmhoffer
January 16, 2017 1:01 pm

I thought it meant dying instantly from eating one of the really hot ones! I saw a fellow in a restaurant in Mexico clutch his throat as if he were dying after biting into one, but then I’m pretty sure he was a gringo.

Reply to  Jim G1
January 16, 2017 7:56 pm

There are alleged videos of a guy snorting wasabi. If not, there there are videos of a guy who will get an Oscar someday.

John M. Ware
Reply to  davidmhoffer
January 17, 2017 2:21 am

I think the “instantaneous hazard” is the simple fact that death comes in an instant–one minute a person is alive, the next moment he’s not. I noted the exact moment of my wife’s death as 11:20 a.m. on Sunday, September 28, 2014; I was there when she took her last breath. By then there was no hope for survival, but she was still alive to take that breath and not afterwards.

Reply to  John M. Ware
January 17, 2017 9:48 am

No one dies instantly, unless vaporized. [I’ve seen way too much death.]

Reply to  davidmhoffer
January 17, 2017 9:47 am

Dying in the next hour.

January 16, 2017 11:42 am

I suppose it’s just coincidence that the hot zone for stomach cancer is in the Rio Grande valley of New Mexico (?). Better stick with cold research in Vt.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Resourceguy
January 16, 2017 12:19 pm

BBQ too much probably.

January 16, 2017 11:51 am

cannot stand hot spicy stuff, extremely sensitive to it.
guess I will die younger.
oh well.

Reply to  dmacleo
January 16, 2017 12:00 pm

or not

January 16, 2017 11:55 am

If you like the featured study in this post, then stay tuned for MY study, demonstrating the causal effect of hot females on straight males. I realize that my parameters are somewhat limited, but I’ll leave it to other researchers to do similar studies for the gay, lesbian, bi, and questioning communities.
Older men, especially, who date hot women can add years to their lives, improve blood chemistry, mental outlook, and a host of other life-quality measures (stop that snickering!). Alas (in some cases), possible contraindications include reduced wealth, and loss of sleep.
I might have gone too far.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
January 16, 2017 1:58 pm

Robert, I can’t say I agree. She doesn’t look a bit like the woman I love.
(Though i wouldn’t it if she stuck that pose once an awhile.8-)

Ill Tempered Klavier
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
January 17, 2017 1:45 pm

Hmmm, I wouldn’t mind being able to look well enough to get whistles striking that type of pose again.

January 16, 2017 11:56 am

Even science has found good in the “Red Hot Chili Peppers”, flea will like that!

Pop Piasa
January 16, 2017 12:12 pm

This came up in my feed today

I hope it wasn’t too spicy to chew.

Gary Pearse
January 16, 2017 12:16 pm

I used to get heck for adding Frank’s Louisiana hot sauce to soups, pastas, fried eggs, pizzas etc. I like my Buffalo wings super hot and enjoy curries and Latino hot dishes. In China, I did reach a limit with a traditional “hot pot”, though and Nigeria’s groundnut (peanut) stew with pilipili peppers came close. The Chinese also employ a powerful infusion of hot peppers to be taken on the onset of a cold or the flu followed by wrapping up and sweating it out. One of too few wise choices I’ve made, l guess.

Ron Konkoma
January 16, 2017 12:34 pm

They found that consumers of hot red chili peppers tended to be “younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, and to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and consume more vegetables and meats . . . had lower HDL-cholesterol, lower income, and less education,” in comparison to participants who did not consume red chili peppers.

Imagine that — eating peppers causes you to be poorer and dumber.
Pretty powerful stuff.

Jim Hutchison, Wollombi
January 16, 2017 12:36 pm

I’m with Kip Hansen.
Apart from his valid criticism of Epidemiology generally and as employed in this particular paper, is the additional fact that these authors seem to have their Math wrong.
The paper contains a Powerpoint slide of Table 3 which summarises the statistical analysis of 4,946 deaths. The causes of death are classified into 11 categories (of which ‘Other’ comprised 1,401 deaths). The data looked odd to me – so I was fascinated to discover when I added the deaths by cause that the number was 6,529 rather than the 4,946 shown as the total !!!
This is clearly a case of the whole being much less than the sum of its parts – but thats Epidemiology for you.

Reply to  Jim Hutchison, Wollombi
January 16, 2017 1:24 pm

Not the only egregious math error in the paper. They did not even getbthe baseline sample size right.

January 16, 2017 12:43 pm

A company I worked for had an astonishing proportion of PepperHeads, including a nuclear 80% (!!!) of the Engineering Dept. Several employees even grew the hotter cultivars as a gardening hobby. (Including the famous Scotch Bonnet, popular throughout the Caribbean.)
From the study:
“younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, and to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and consume more vegetables and meats . . . had lower HDL-cholesterol, lower income, and less education,”
Demographics of the PepperHeads:
Age: across the board
Sex: 50:50
Marital Status: No difference
Smoking: No difference
Income: Higher
Education: More
As I traveled the Caribbean every chance I got, I took to bringing back bottles of locally produced hot sauce from whatever island I was visiting as gifts for the troops.
In Aug. and Sept., dishes full of unusual pepper varieties appeared in the company cafeteria thanks to the gardeners.
I never saw anything like it before, in my life, and I could not possibly explain it.

Reply to  TonyL
January 16, 2017 2:04 pm

They were engineering hot stuff.

Bryan A
Reply to  TonyL
January 16, 2017 2:25 pm

Depending on where you worked at the time, the education demographic is practically useless.
If you work with sanitation workers, higher education isn’t necessarily a requirement of employment.
If you work with MDs or Lawyers education tends to be much higher.
If you work with PHDs it could be even higher

January 16, 2017 12:43 pm

“Hot headed”
“Hot tempered”
“Hot under the collar”
“Hot off the press”
“Heated debate”
There’s just something emotional about heat, isn’t there ?
Has the world gone mad ? Yes, since it is getting hotter. [audience groans, rim shot, slide whistle, curved cane pulls performer off stage]

Tom in Florida
January 16, 2017 12:47 pm

Hold on now, perhaps they have a point.
“Among them are the fact that capsaicin – the principal component in chili peppers – is believed to play a role in cellular and molecular mechanisms that prevent obesity ”
So how many of you have actually ever seen an overweight Mexican?

Jerry Henson
January 16, 2017 12:57 pm

This sounds like two of my all time favorite studies:
“Men who marry younger women live longer”
“Men whose sons run marathons live longer”

Reply to  Jerry Henson
January 16, 2017 2:09 pm

Interesting, Jerry.
What were the results?
I was just reading last week about ” A 1997 study in the BMJ based upon 918 men age 45–59 found that after a ten-year follow-up, men who had fewer orgasms were twice as likely to die of any cause as those having two or more orgasms a week”
Reference for this was “Sex and Death, Are They Related?”
You really can learn something new everyday!

Jerry Henson
Reply to  Menicholas
January 16, 2017 2:23 pm

Menicholas, After I stopped laughing, I also stopped reading.
I do use these descriptions to illustrate “self selected groups” to my

Reply to  Jerry Henson
January 16, 2017 2:11 pm

So, when she tells you she has a headache, and you complain “Baby, you’re killin’ me”, it turns out you were right!

Reply to  Menicholas
January 16, 2017 2:16 pm

Plus many. Best joke of the week so far.

Reply to  Menicholas
January 17, 2017 6:14 am

And she says, “Well, that is the plan.”

January 16, 2017 1:08 pm

Capsaicin stimulates the receptors used for the transmission of that sensation known as “Pain”. As it turns out, these receptors are thought to be universal in the animal kingdom. Sooo…..
If you eat a lot of peppers, your gut becomes a very hostile environment for any intestinal parasites you may have. So (it has been proposed) that animals which adapt to eating hot peppers are more parasite-free and healthier than their peers.
There must be an evolutionary basis for eating something which *HURTS*, otherwise we are all just crazy.

Bryan A
Reply to  TonyL
January 16, 2017 2:28 pm

I’ll vote for the former, if it is the latter, I’ll need a few more rungs

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  TonyL
January 16, 2017 6:58 pm

Yes hot chilies are and were used to keep down the intestinal parasites.
They are also addictive. After a while people conditioned to tongue roasters who eat non-hot foods don’t feel full, as if they ate little. Satisfaction comes only to the peppered people, once they are used to it, with more, more, more.
The study I recall relating the ‘feeling full and sated’ only after eating another round of hot sauce smothered ‘something’ was conducted in India.
I thought the hottest food in the world was in Korea (ever flown Korean Airlines?) but Jakarta beef stews take the Blue Ribbon. You know those little menu pictures of a chili pepper beside the food item name? Some restaurants have two indicating ‘really hot’. In Jakarta they have up to FIVE!

January 16, 2017 1:12 pm

Thank you for the article.
looking at table 2, the causes of death, I am struck by the deaths that are associated with aging: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; Dementia; death from Diabetes; Stroke; Pneumonia/Influenza; Vascular disease (Heart & Stroke) listed separately from the subheadings of Heart, Stroke. Further, the educational attainment (none, elementary, middle school or high school and above) as well as the demographics of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption would support the younger men’s age as being most important in survival benefits. Young smokers have not had the time, yet, to suffer the full consequences of say 20 or 50 Pack Years of smoking. The chili pepper consumption differences noted could be largely explained by the very small numbers left when age alone is factored into a survival statistic. The youngest person would have been 18 years of age at enrollment and the follow-up period of 1 day to 23 years would mean that the oldest he could be is 41 years old. So age at enrollment, say middle age or above and mortality assessed 20 years later more likely than not would impact the study’s outcome, type of death. Accidents for the young and Dementia for the older crowd.
On another point, NHANES III was begun as a “cross-sectional” study evolving into a longitudinal study. Initial applied assumptions means that the use of some types of statistics used may not be valid.

January 16, 2017 1:19 pm

Beyond junk statistics. The give away is in the PR: eaters of hot red peppers tend to be young, white, male, Mexican American…
I was curious so went and looked up NHANES III. There is a 462 page description of the baseline data, including all questions and frequency of responses. Hot red pepper question wording is on page 53. Real chiles, excludes ground red pepper (like in pizza parlors). Adult n =20050 is on page 67. Consumption of hot red peppers is on page 263: 15066 never, 4942 at least once/ month, 42 blank/ dunno. Data n= 20050. Checks exactly with total N for adults on page 67. Shows bad Vermont paper math, as the abstract says N for HRP (yes/no) is 16179. Nope. Excluding blank/dunno, adult hot red pepper data set n=20008.
Now for the bad logic. (A) Adult Age range at beginning of study 18 to ober 90 (n=196>89, A lot older sick people (pp 155-163): 2427 with cataracts, 430 with emphysema, 1134 with chronic bronchitis, 725 with congestive heart failure, and 1558 with cancer. (B) 2647 born in Mexico, 2450 primary language Spanish. So note second PR problem; half of hot red pepper eaters are NOT Mexican American. But they are young, white, and male.
(C) It does not take a statistical analysis of NHANES III to figure out that younger people die less often than older people, even if they smoke and drink, after 18.9 years in a sample with emphysema, congestive heart failure, cancer, cataracts, and people over 90. In fact, it does not take any statistics at all –just a bit of logic–to conclude given the closeness of the abstract result (21.6% mortality with HRP, 33.6% mortality without HRP) to conclude that youthful smoking, drinking, and hot red chili peppers is 2/3 as deadly as cancer, congestive heart failure, emphysema, and old age.
This study could have been done by Michael Mann, it is that bad.

Reply to  ristvan
January 16, 2017 2:00 pm

Not to mention that the author screened 81 food items. One was bound to have some spurious correlation with longevity.

Reply to  Gary
January 16, 2017 2:14 pm

Ah, but he ‘replicated’ a probably equally bad Chinese hot red pepper study for the first time. That is how clisci is done. Karl gets rid of the pause. Then Hausfalter and Cowtan get rid of the pause. Replicating that there never was a pause despite over 60 papers explaining the pause with marvelous reasoning like Trenberth’s the heat is hiding in the deep ocean (essay Missing Heat in ebook Blowing Smoke).

Reply to  ristvan
January 16, 2017 4:54 pm

All of this is just a re-tooling of that Olde-Tyme Religion. All bodily or temporal pleasure is bad, should you wish the special favors of the gods you must mortify your flesh and abstain from (wait for it!) drink, sex, food that tastes good and fills you up, now even sitting still is of de debbil. NOTHING but the same retread control agenda of the finger-wagging nannies who want everyone as miserable and cranky and brainwashed as they are.
Note to fitness nuts: No animal species, wild or domestic, has ever run itself to cardiovascular distress and muscle group failure absent a mortal predatory threat or mating imperative (think rutting bucks). You will NEVER hear in the MSM about the thousands of folks who die while exercising, or destroy their joints, spines etc. with extreme exercise, every year, and the facts of the utter ineffectiveness of both “dieting” and exercise for weight loss are carefully hidden. From what you DO read, you’d think that a diet of kale smoothies is associated with immortality instead of extreme bowel motility!

Reply to  Goldrider
January 16, 2017 8:14 pm

Mmm, k a l e s m o o t h i e s !!

Reply to  ristvan
January 16, 2017 5:08 pm

“Real chilies, excludes ground red pepper (like in pizza parlors)”

The red pepper shakers in all of the pizza parlors I visit, are ground red chili peppers.
The seeds are distinctive and easily spotted. They are the primary hot component in peppers. The lining holding the seeds may be hotter, but there is less per chili pepper.
Heat in the pepper flesh is secondary.
Since the Europeans brought the chili pepper back from South America and the Caribbean, chili peppers have exploded throughout Asia, Malaysia, Philippines, and parts of Africa.
So the authors used armchair confirmation bases when establishing their basis. Really bad scientific approach. Another published press statement destined for endless internet rumors.
My Mother lived in parts of the American Southwest when she was younger. Her entire brood learned to eat hot food very early. No known Spanish in our family, some native Americans though.
My children have learned to eat hot foods; though they and their friends keep bringing me “hot” foods to test.
If I munch it down, they all stand there and try to munch a food too, usually while I am dipping seconds or thirds.
I keep telling them that I knew people at work, various nationalities, who could easily beat me in a hot food test.
I loved living for years in New Orleans, where many people believe if you are not sweating and sniffling while eating, you didn’t season it enough. Getting those mucous membranes flushing is beneficial.
I do not get “heart burn” from hot foods. I do get “heart burn” from acidic foods.
Those hot sauces based on lots of vinegar backfire all the time on me.
Tabasco is fermented tabasco peppers and salt, it does not bother my stomach, unless I flood the food with it.
Hot spicy kimchi, whether Korean, or following the same basic recipe in Japan or China, is wonderful stuff. But it is far too acidic for my stomach. Alka Seltzer time!
I raise all kinds of peppers, including salad and hot peppers from habanero, jalapeno through various varieties of long thin twisty peppers. I also like to make a sort of sautéed onion and hot pepper jam; no, I do not revoke the seeds, but it is wonderful on crackers.
My Brother used to have a neighbor who vaguely resembles their rather racial prejudice.
One day, my Brother followed a tasty smell from next door and found his neighbor grilling habanero/scotch bonnets over a charcoal fire and eating the roasted pepper parts.
We exchanged hot peppers for each other to try. He grew better habaneros; thicker flesh, sweeter, quite yummy.
A word of warning though. A coworker decided to make some pepper relish using habaneros, so he bought about five pounds at the farm market.
He washed and destemmed the peppers, roughly chopped them and threw them in the food processor and hit liquefy.
The cats bolted out the cat door almost immediately.
His wife stopped talking in mid sentence and he soon heard her go out the door.
He lasted for a couple of minutes before also bolting out the door.
After a few minutes breathing fresh air, he took a good breath and went back in to shut off the processor.
Food processors are not air tight, especially without the plunger. Capsaicin and mucous membranes, like nostrils, nasal passages and lungs are a rather inflammatory mix.
He didn’t finish that batch of relish.
Then there is the dog I had to spray with pepper spray while delivering mail. He stood there licking the spray off of his face without whimper or noise. I decided it was best if I wasn’t around when he got his face cleaned.

January 16, 2017 2:03 pm

Does it work if you swallow them without chewing?

Bryan A
Reply to  Menicholas
January 16, 2017 2:29 pm

You find out the pain quotient as it passes

Reply to  Bryan A
January 16, 2017 6:26 pm

They used to have that show called “The Fear Factor”, in which people were given a series of challenges, ranging from the physically demanding, to the frightening, to the absolutely disgusting, and to the truly sickening.
One common one they would have was making the people eat some food, like 100 year old eggs, or habanero peppers.
The prize for the winner was a whole lot of money, although it always seemed like not quite enough for a prime time show.
Anyway, I used to wonder why people took little nibbles instead of just swallowing them without chewing?
I mean, after all, most medicines and pills in general taste downright awful, which is why the best technique is throwing them to the back of the throat and quickly drinking water.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Bryan A
January 16, 2017 7:41 pm

“You find out the pain quotient as it passes”
Brings to mind Cheech in the stall, yelling “Come on, ice cream!”.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Bryan A
January 16, 2017 7:44 pm


January 16, 2017 2:26 pm

One interesting point to notice is that pepper is extremely rich in vitamin c. This could explain an inverse correlation to hearth diseace and stroke. Of course the study as such may be invalid …

January 16, 2017 2:29 pm

I never ate hot stuff when I was young. My parents taught me that black pepper (kind that comes in a pepper shaker was hot). Then I married a (cute) Korean lady. Koreans live on pepper (and garlic). I now also love peppers. Even though I have GERD, peppers seem to calm down my stomach. Every fall, I drive my wife down to Pueblo, CO, where she typically picks about 400 lbs. of Pueblo peppers, washes and cuts them open, and lets them dry in the sun. Then she takes the dried peppers to someone with a mill to make pepper powder.

January 16, 2017 3:04 pm

Peppered with nonsense.

January 16, 2017 5:34 pm

Hmmm…. I do like a good spicy Jambalaya, and there is nothing like a good meal after a difficult day. So toss in another pepper or two and live a little. 🙂

January 16, 2017 6:16 pm

NHANES and the Boston Nurses study have been the source of much of the conflicting nutritional advice we’ve received over the years- salt, carbohydrates, sugars, tooth decay, and others more obscure. The only one I believe they didn’t provoke was saturated fats being bad for you, causing heart disease. That was a pure advocacy hoax. These types of studies, which are purely statistical in nature, are very difficult to design, conduct, and interpret. Even differences of 30% or more aren’t much better than your doctor saying “I think….”. There are hundreds of uncontrolled confounding factors that can’t be measured.

Reply to  philohippous
January 16, 2017 6:34 pm

I can remember a few years back there was a study which the press release claimed proved that low calorie sweeteners make you fatter than just using sugar.
But upon reading the details, it turns out they just polled people on whether they drank diet soda or regular, and since the diet soda drinkers were overall heavier, the conclusion was that these non calorie sweeteners fool and confuse some part of the brain that keeps track of caloric intake. Never mind that it seems dubious that this is how our bodies regulate caloric intake…by the sweetness of what we consume.
I just sat there wondering…did it not occur to these braniacs that people who are overweight to begin with are the ones more likely to drink low calorie beverages?

Reply to  Menicholas
January 16, 2017 6:38 pm

How ironic…to misspell “brainiac”,

Reply to  Menicholas
January 16, 2017 8:26 pm

“Braniacs” are a different sort of health food nut.

Reply to  philohippous
January 16, 2017 9:22 pm

“carbohydrates, sugars, tooth decay,”
Which tend to increase bacterial acid content for caries. Perhaps a Ca(OH)2 (pickling lime) mouthwash??

January 17, 2017 7:12 am

Love hot peppers! I put habaneros in my salad just to give it a nice tang! 😉

Reply to  philjourdan
January 17, 2017 3:34 pm

I also love peppers, pepperoni, hot chili peppers and chilli sauce to the steak. But I also love curry and peanut sauce to the chicken. I also love garlic and mustard on buttered bread. Taste is in the eye and palate of the beholder and I think I have kept myself quite well for my age. Perhaps because of my high consumption of spices, who knows. However, I do not feel uneducated and am not a smoker or drinker. So I do not fit into the grid of the study. Thank God.

Johann Wundersamer
January 19, 2017 9:31 pm

So if you ‘pun’ish yourself with ‘pun’gent agents you’ve less to fear and living is easy.

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