A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Hot! Hot! Hot!

A recent study by doctors at UCLA shows that capsaicin--the active ingredient in hot peppers--causes prostate cancer cells to "commit suicide." At least in mice and in cell cultures grown in a lab. Peppers, the study concluded, have "a profound anti-proliferative effect on human prostate cancer cells." The hotter, the better.

I don't even have a prostate, but some of my best friends do. And it seems reasonable enough to extrapolate from those results that capsaicin might have a similar effect on other types of cancer cells. Hot peppers are also a powerful anti-inflammatory, as well as an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, folic acid, and potassium.

This photo is of a basket of freshly-picked peppers donated to the cooks at last year's New England Chili Festival by the owners of the farm where the festival was held. Not all the peppers are hot, but you can see some poblanos, Hungarian red and yellow hot wax peppers, long hot peppers, and cayennes in there. I guess I used some of each, plus some luscious chipotles I brought with me. I'll never win a prize for my chili as long as I keep entering a vegetarian one, but I did go home with an empty pot. And with my five-alarmer, at least I did my part to keep the judges' prostates healthy.


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