Research at Bochum, Germany’s Ruhr University led by Dr. Hanns Hatt and Dr. Lea Webero with collaboration by several German institutions, tested the effects of a spicy compound in chili peppers that could aid in slowing cultivated tumor cells of a subtype of breast cancer known as triple-negative breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in women around the entire world regardless of race or ethnicity.

Scientists, through genetic research, have been able to place breast cancer in subtypes which respond in different ways to types of treatment. Triple-negative breast cancer is especially aggressive and has proven to be very difficult to find a treatment for because of the absence of the three receptors that are known to promote breast cancer. Those are estrogen receptors (ER), progesterone receptors (PR), and the growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2).

Breast cancers that test positively for HER2 usually respond well to treatment and some specific drugs. However, the type of cancer that tests negatively for those needed receptors is called triple-negative breast cancer. Since the tumor cells in that cancer lack the three receptors, commonly used treatments such as hormone therapy and drugs that target them are not effective. Using chemotherapy, however, is still effective and usually the only option, and this cancer, in the early stages, may respond better to chemotherapy than other cancers.