"This doesn't mean hot peppers cure prostate cancer, but it may play a role in preventing it," he said. "It has nothing to do with the heat per se, but they have a lot of carotenoids and flavonoids, which scavenge free radicals in our system, and free radicals are known to cause cancer."
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, capsaicin, provided it's in an extremely diluted form, can also be used to treat ear infections. Additionally, one study found that the compound may help treat heartburn. More research is needed to examine that relationship further, and studies are also under way to determine its effects on certain cardiovascular conditions.
But because it's so hot -- pure capsaicin extract is rated at more than 15 million Scoville units -- the compound should be used only as directed by a physician, and in moderation.
And Barrus also encourages people not accustomed to eating hot peppers to take the heat warnings seriously.
"These peppers are not for the average Joe. They're for idiots like me," he said, joking.