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Chili Peppers Linked to Lower Mortality

Maxim Sorokopud Maxim Sorokopud
14th April 2021
Chili Peppers Linked to Lower Mortality
Chili peppers are linked to lower mortality rates in one study (Getty Images).

The Claim

Eating chili peppers can make you live longer.

Emerging story

In March and April 2021, popular food and news websites began posting about a study that claimed that chili peppers were linked to lower mortality. In particular, this study made the shocking claim that chili peppers could reduce someone’s risk of dying by up to 23%.

A supporting image within the article body
A supporting image within the article body
A supporting image within the article body

Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar’s investigation shows the study cited appeared in the respected Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 

The study focused on over 22,000 men and women in southern Italy. The study began in 2005 and ended in 2015. 

24.3% of the study’s participants stated that they ate chili peppers over four times per week, and 33% stated that they either never ate chili peppers or rarely ate chili peppers. The study then recorded the deaths of the study participants over this time and discovered that "regular consumption (>4 times/week) of chili pepper was associated with 23% (95% CI: 10% to 34%) lower risk of all-cause mortality, as opposed to none/rare intake.” 

The study ascribes the lower risk of mortality that comes with eating chili peppers to be thanks to capsaicin, a compound found in the food that “has been observed to favorably improve cardiovascular function and metabolic regulation in experimental and population studies.” It also has anti-inflammatory properties, analgesic properties, atheroprotective effects and fights tumor cells. 

A range of highly respected medical publishers have reported on this study, such as Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing

However, correlation is not causation. While the study does show a correlation between people who eat chili peppers regularly and lower death rates, it seems likely that those who eat chili peppers regularly would have more variety in their diets overall. Since people who eat a varied diet have greater life expectancy than those with unvaried diets, it is possible that that is the reason for the study's findings. Because the study did find a link, but correlation is not causation, we rate this claim as selective. 

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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