The researchers undertook a prospective study of 487,375 participants, aged 30-79 years.
Participants with a history of cancer, heart disease, and stroke were excluded from the study, and factors such as age, marital status, level of education, and physical activity were accounted for.
During a median follow-up of 7.2 years, there were 20,224 deaths.
Compared with participants who ate spicy foods less than once a week, those who consumed spicy foods 1 or 2 days a week were at a 10% reduced risk of death (hazard ratios for death was 0.90). And those who ate spicy foods 3 to 5 and 6 or 7 days a week were at a 14% reduced risk of death (hazard ratios for death 0.86, and 0.86 respectively).*
The scientists warn that the study was observational and no definitive conclusions could be drawn about cause and effect, but they have called for more research that may “lead to updated dietary recommendations and development of functional foods.”
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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