Scientists say that blocking the body’s ability to feel pain boosts lifespan - and that one way of switching off pain is by regularly eating chilli peppers.
The culinary advice follows experiments in mice, in which stopping pain signals from reaching the brain extended their lifespan.
Animals that could not make pain-sensing protein called TRPV1 were ‘exceptionally long lived’.
Not only was life 14 per cent longer, but it was also healthier.
They developed cancer less often and their memory faded less with age.
They seemed to be able to burn off calories without exercising more than usual and their metabolism, including their ability to process sugar remained youthful late in life.
This could cut the risk of diabetes, the journal Cell reports.
University of California researcher Andrew Dillin said: ‘We think that blocking this pain receptor and pathway could be very, very useful not only for relieving pain, but for improving lifespan and metabolic health and in particular for treating diabetes and obesity in humans.
‘As humans age, they report a higher incidence of pain, suggesting that pain might drive the ageing process.’
The animals in his experiment had been genetically-engineered to not make the TRPV1 pain sensor.
But Professor Dillin said that regularly eating capsaicin, the compound that gives chilli peppers their zing, should stop the sensor from working.
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