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Is spicy food bad for you?

After high-profile coverage of a "killer" curry-eating contest that sent two people to the hospital in Scotland, a science website asked experts: "Can eating too much spicy food kill you?"

The answer? Yes and no.



Earlier this month, what began as a charity curry-eating contest at an Indian restaurant in Edinburgh turned into a weeping, disastrous mess when contestants collapsed on the floor, vomiting, sweating and writhing in pain. Two people were sent to hospital.

While spices like cayenne pepper have been shown to boost metabolism and are often used as weight loss ingredients, experts say excessive amounts can also do harm to the body by causing tissue inflammation, reported LiveScience.com on October 14.

While a research study from the 1980s  calculated that three pounds (1.4 kg) of extreme chilies in powder form could kill a 150-pound (68 kg) person if consumed all at once, experts point out that such a scenario would never have a chance to play out, considering the body would react sooner than later to the excessive heat.

Symptoms, as displayed by the contestants, include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, and sweating.

And while spicy foods have gotten a bum rap for causing stomach ulcers, experts now know it's a myth. What spicy foods can do, however, is increase the secretion of stomach acids, which would cause irritation to the stomach acid wall and any existing open sores, delaying the healing of an ulcer.

Experts recommend turning down the heat if heartburn and ulcers are recurring problems.

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