Spicy food is good for lots of things, from helping with weight loss to simply tasting delicious. But for one man living in Orland Park, Ill., just outside of Chicago, it can be credited with saving his life.
Thirty-year-old Randy Schmitz doesn’t believe he would have discovered a cancerous brain tumor in its early stages if it wasn’t for sampling the Flashbang hot sauce from Pepper Palace in Myrtle Beach, S.C. while on vacation last August. After sampling the hot sauce, which is packaged like a grenade and contains Carolina Reaper, Scorpion, Ghost, and Habanero peppers, Schmitz fell the ground and experienced a seizure. He was immediately rushed to the hospital, where an MRI scan detected the tumor.
“If I hadn’t tried that, I think something eventually would have triggered the seizure and I would have found out, but the cancer tumor would’ve grown in my head,” Schmitz told the Chicago Tribune. The seizure and his subsequent diagnosis cut his vacation short; he flew home to undergo surgery to remove the 2.5-inch-by-1.5-inch tumor, which rested on his brain’s left frontal lobe. By discovering the tumor, Schmitz was able to undergo radiation and chemotherapy early enough to survive.
It’s unclear whether the hot sauce caused the seizure. Schmitz only tasted it off the tip of a toothpick, but with its spiciness and the fact he had to wait five minutes before drinking any water, it could be possible. Dr. Jeffrey Raizer, medical director of neuro-oncology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where Schmitz was operated on, said the stressed and dehydrated condition he was in after the tasting matched possible triggers for seizures. “If you eat a habanero, it’s a big jolt to your system,” he told the Tribune.
Orland Park man credits hot sauce with triggering seizure that may have saved his life http://t.co/vNwwN1eiOO pic.twitter.com/qxuPV84dXm
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) March 13, 2015
With only a month left of chemotherapy left, Schmitz took it upon himself to send Pepper Palace an email thanking them for saving his life. The company, ecstatic about the news, sent him a box of products, including hot sauce, t-shirts, and golf balls.
While it might be better that Schmitz stays away from the Flashbang hot sauce, he might find the others inside the box useful for prevention. Research into capsaicin, the active chemical in chili peppers, has turned up evidence that it could force cancer cells to kill themselves, a process called apoptosis. Nevertheless, let’s hope Schmitz doesn’t develop cancer again.