Chili pepper product slows PSA doubling time in prostate cancer patient
Posted Mar 08 2010 12:00am
Several years ago (2006 to be precise) it was reported by Mori et al. and by Sánchez et al. that capsaicin (the strong-smelling, active component of chili peppers) was able to kill prostate cancer cells in mouse-based cell cultures.
In an article published in February, Jankovic et al. have described what they claim to be “the first case” of PSA stabilization in a patient with prostate cancer, who had biochemical failure after radiation therapy. The stabilization appears to have been a consequence of treatment with capsaicin.
The patient in question was a 66-year-old man with clinical stage T2b prostate cancer (Gleason score 3 + 4 = 7). When he first presented in April 2001, with a PSA of 13.3, he was treated with 3D conformal radiation therapy to the prostate and the pelvis, followed by a prostate-specific radiation “boost.”
Radiation therapy was completed in May 2001, and by January 2002 his PSA had dropped to a nadir level of 0.57 ng/ml. However, his PSA gradually started to rise again, and in July 2005, when the PSA level had reached 38.5 ng/ml, he was treated with bicalutamide and leuprolide acetate (“total” or “maximal” androgen deprivation therapy). The patient did not tolerate androgen ablation well and so he discontinued treatment, deciding to start taking 2.5 ml of habañeros chili sauce, containing capsaicin, 1 to 2 times a week, starting in April 2006, with the following consequences:
His PSA doubling time increased from 4 weeks (before capsaicin treatment) to 7.3 months between April and October 2006.
Between October 2006 and November 2007, he stayed on capsaicin (at 2.5 to 15 ml daily) and his PSA was stable (between 11 to 14 ng/ml).
Between November 2007 and January 2008, his PSA rose to 22.3 ng/ml and he has subsequently has maintained a PSA doubling time between 4 and 5 months.
Because of the patient’s continued PSA rise, he has been restarted on bicalutamide (12.5 mg daily). However, he is still free of all signs or symptoms of recurrence of his prostate cancer with the exception of the rise in his PSA.
Now The “New” Prostate cancer InfoLink is not recommending that every man with progressive prostate cancer rushes out to the supermarket and starts downing large amounts of habaneros sauce on a daily basis, but … It certainly does appear that capsaicin does something that may impact the rate of growth of prostate cancer cells in at least some men, which leads one to wonder whether it may really be possible to develop some form of capsaicin derivative as a drug that can be used to delay the growth of prostate cancer prior to the need to initiate hormone therapy.