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Spicy food could be the key to a long life

Spicy food could be the key to a long life

Fans of spicy food will already know it can temporality speed up metabolism, but new research suggests it can also cut the risk of dying from certain ailments.

Teams from Oxford University, Harvard School of Public Health and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences looked at a previous study of nearly 500,000 people, and it was found that those who ate spicy food every day, or every other, were less likely to pass away than those who dipped their toes into hot food every now and again.

The original study focused on a group of 487,000 Chinese people, aged between 30 and 79. Each participant answered questions about their health and diet, before being tracked over a seven-year period. During this time 20,224 of them died. It was found that those who regularly ate spice food were 14 per cent less likely to die, with deaths from cancer, heart disease and breathing problems particularly low among the spicy eaters.

The results have been published in the British Medical Journal, with the scientists speculating that a chemical found in chilli peppers called capsaicin may have anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and cancer fighting properties.

But they also flagged up that a definite conclusion could not be drawn as they had looked at broad statistical trends, not at the exact role spice had played in each case.

Other scientists have also pointed out that people should bear in mind the differences between the Chinese and western diet.

"It’s important to realise that the study gives very little encouragement for the stereotypical English pastime of going out for several pints of beer and a hot curry," the Open University's Professor Kevin McConway noted.

"The relationship between eating spicy food and a lower death rate was apparent really only in people who didn’t drink alcohol at all."

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