Posted on September 11, 2019

Qatar University’s (QU) Dr. Zumin Shi (pictured), from the Human Nutrition Department, of the College of Health Sciences recently published his research on the effects of excessive chili consumption on cognitive ability and was cited by several prominent scientific journals, as well as many newspapers, audio and TV media channels.

In a recent publication led by Dr. Shi, results of widespread interest were reported based on a study that spanned 15 years, from 1991 to 2006. The study concluded that consuming more than 50 grams of chili per day is strongly correlated with faster cognitive decline. This population based longitudinal study is significant as it managed to include a large focus group of 4582 Chinese adults aged over 55 for a period of 15 years. More interestingly, the study pinpointed that memory decline was more significant if chili lovers were slim, indicating that excess chili consumption might eventually lead to dementia in this population.

As such, chili consumption that has been considered beneficial thus far especially for body weight and blood pressure management; has been shown to have serious adverse effects on cognitive abilities over long periods of time. Excess chili consumption almost doubles the risk of memory decline and leads to poor cognition.

The study was published in the Nutrients Journal in May 2019, and cited by various newspapers and scientific platforms such as the New York News, BBC News, Australian, Malaysian, Chinese and several other countries. The Altmetric Attention score, which evaluates the significance and scope of attention a given research attracts, is thus far 790, which is one of the highest in the world. In the Chinese social media Weibo, a report on the study reached 350 million views. Nevertheless, the highest impact of this study remain predominantly in Middle and East Asia, since China and other Asian countries have a high consumption of chili, and with the rapid population ageing, the burden of dementia is very prominent in these populations.