(NEWSER) – The ghost pepper is one of the world's hottest peppers, with a Scoville rating of more than a million. So it might follow that you shouldn't ingest it in more than tiny quantities. And yet, the Journal of Emergency Medicine reports on the unusual case of a man who tore a hole in his esophagus after eating an incredibly hot ghost pepper. The 47-year-old American ate a burger topped with a "ghost pepper puree" as part of an eating contest. YouTube is rife with video of people eating these things, so you can probably guess how this one went: The man started vomiting, profusely. He threw up so much, in fact, that he caused a tear to form in his esophagus—a rare condition known as Boerhaave syndrome. The condition has a high mortality rate, notes stuff.co.nz.
When his pain continued to get worse, the man called emergency responders. Eagle-eyed doctors were able to diagnose the tear, and the man's life was saved with emergency surgery. He spent 23 days in the hospital recovering from the incident—the costs of which which we can safely assume far outweighed whatever the prize was in the eating contest. While this particular case had a terrifying complication, the authors of the study note that normally, ghost peppers cause "no significant adverse effects." (If you don't overdo it, chili peppers might actually lengthen your life.)
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