I just read a news report on ThisDay about the link between Suya and red pepper by the Commissioner for Health, Ondo State, Dr. Dayo Adeyanju.
According to the report, Dr. Adeyanju said the red pepper sprinkled on Suya is more like to cause cancer than the meat itself.
He added that, researchers have suggested that the pepper used contains certain chemicals, which when added to the grilled meat, tends to provoke carcinogenesis, leading to gastric cancer.
On an advisory note, he said that, with the notoriety cancer was gaining in the country, it was important that people were aware of what to do and things to avoid in other to prevent it.
I found the full article quite enlightening but I could not help but disagree with the part of "red pepper being more likely to cause cancer more than the meat itself."
In my opinion, the cancer risk associated with suya, is a function of both the meat and the pepper. And if at all one of the two should be more responsible for causing cancer, it should be the meat.
First off, meat alone, processed or unprocessed has been OFFICIALLY linked to bowel, pancreatic and prostate cancer by the WHO.
This year, researchers also confirmed that cooking meat at high temperatures - over an open flame (as done with Suya) or by pan-frying could cause kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma (RCC)). The study was published online in the journal CANCER by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre. Read more here.
Meanwhile, the role of Capsaicin -- the compound that makes chili peppers spicy has been largely controversial. While capsaicin is suspected of causing gastric cancer because the highest rate of the disease was found in the those who eat pepper (e.g Mexicans), capsaicin has also been proven to kill cancer cells too without harming healthy cells.
Therefore, I think if Suya causes cancer, the pepper sprinkled on it, cannot be more responsible than the meat itself.
All in all, it's just my opinion and in case, you missed it, please watch my Youtube video below: