Variety of spice adds up to a longer life

Chilli peppers

A study which analysed the food habits and health details of nearly 500,000 Chinese people found that those who consumed spicy food six or seven days a week had a 14% reduced risk of dying compared with those who ate it less than once a week.

Eating spicy food was also associated with a lower risk of death due to cancer, ischemic heart diseases, and respiratory diseases in both sexes, while in women, it corresponded with a reduced risk of death from infections.

The links were stronger in those who did not consume alcohol.

Researchers stressed that the findings were purely observational, and eating lots of spicy food could also be linked to other dietary habits and lifestyle choices or socioeconomic status.

“For example, in Chinese cuisine the cooking of chilli pepper and the production of chilli sauce and oil usually requires more oil, and intake of pungent foods may be accompanied by an increased intake of carbohydrate-rich foods such as rice to relieve the burning sensation,” they said.

The study, published in the BMJ, said spices have a long history of being used for flavouring, colouring, and preserving food — as well as for medicinal purposes.

The study authors said capsaicin is the main active component of chilli pepper and its qualities have been extensively reported in relation to anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-hypertensive effects. Additionally, the antimicrobial function of spices, including chilli pepper, has long been recognised, they said.

Meanwhile it has been found that listening to music in the operating theatre may not be as beneficial as thought, with evidence of loud dance or drum and bass music being played during procedures.

Research published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing said communication between surgeons and nurses can be impaired when music is playing.

Surgical teams were filmed carrying out procedures to analyse the effects of music being played, and found requests from surgeons to nurses for instruments or supplies were often repeated, while there was evidence of frustration or tension within some of the teams.

Video recordings from multiple cameras placed at strategic points gave researchers an insight into the verbal and non-verbal communications between clinicians as operations were carried out. Twenty operations lasting a total of 35 hours were analysed, 70% of which had music playing.

They found that how the music was played and controlled was important too. If playback volume from digital sources was not standardised, there could be sudden increases in volume between tracks. Sometimes staff turned up a popular song, again leading to a sudden increase in volume that could mask instructions and other verbal communications.

Researchers suggested the decision to play music during an operation should be made by the entire team, taking into account both the benefits and the risks.


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