Mom Says Hot Cheetos, Spicy Snacks Harmed her Daughter’s Gallbladder
Experts point to fat content, not spices, as the cause
The mom of a Memphis teen claims that her daughter’s love of Hot Cheetos, Hot Takis, and other spicy snacks led to the girl needing to have her gallbladder removed. 
According to Rene Craighead, her 17-year-old daughter, also named Rene, would take big bags of the spicy snacks to school with her. The teen said she ate about 4 big bags of the snacks a week.
Mom Rene said:
“She loves them. Everytime I go out she says, ‘Bring me back some Hot Takis, and bring me back some Hot Chips.’ I want to make her happy, so I brought them back. She was eating big bags and would take them to school with her.” 
She blames the flaming hot junk food on the stomach pain that led to her daughter’s surgery, called a cholecystectomy, but experts don’t believe the spices were the culprit.
The National Institutes of Health explains:
“Being overweight or having obesity may make you more likely to develop gallstones, especially if you are a woman. Researchers have found that people who have obesity may have higher levels of cholesterol in their bile, which can cause gallstones … Some studies have shown that people who carry large amounts of fat around their waist may be more likely to develop gallstones.”
While eating Hot Cheetos and similar foods don’t cause gallbladder problems, Dr. Cary Canvender, a gastroenterologist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, says they can certainly contribute to stomach problems.
“We do see tons of gastritis [inflammation of the stomach lining] and ulcer-related stuff due to it. We probably see around 100 kids a month, easily.”
Research shows that specific foods can cause ulcers, worsen them, or reactivate them.
Spicy foods like Takis and Hot Cheetos get their “heat” from capsaicin, a substance found in hot peppers. In fact, peppers are considered an exceptionally healthy food because of capsaicin, which can help people lose weight, as well as ease pain, improve circulation, and fight cancer. 
But should you consume capsaicin via junk foods? The answer is, obviously, “no.” Though experts do say they’re unaware of strong evidence linking capsaicin to gallbladder problems like gallstones.
If the teen’s snack consumption had anything to do with her gallbladder problems, it was more likely due to their high-fat content, according to Dr. Peter Mattei, a general pediatric surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“I’ve never heard that spiciness or spices can do that.
… We know there are certain things that stimulate the gallbladder, and the main thing is fatty foods. A lot of spicy foods are also high in fat.”
In a statement on behalf of Takis, Buchanan Public Relations wrote: 
“We assure you that Takis are safe to eat, but should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet. Takis ingredients fully comply with U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, and all of the ingredients in each flavor are listed in detail on the label. Always check the serving size before snacking.”
Frito-Lay, the maker of Cheetos, also released a statement, which read:
“At Frito-Lay, food safety is always our number one priority, and our snacks meet all applicable food safety regulations as well as our rigorous quality standards. Some consumers may be more sensitive to spicy foods than others and may choose to avoid spicier snacks due to personal preference.”
 CBS News
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.