Hot for Hot Cheetos? Texas doctors warn to lay off the spicy snack after spike in ulcers


    (Source: KGBT Photo)

    RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KGBT) - It's the hottest snack in the Rio Grande Valley, snack shacks on every corner, selling what people here love the most.

    “Why do you like Hot Cheetos? I don’t know you can't stop eating them,” said Emanuel Garza, owner of local restaurant Chicky-Mikis.

    Garza says he goes through about 300 bags of Hot Cheetos in one week.

    “Let's say in 10 orders, 8 of the orders have Hot Cheetos with cheese,” said Garza.

    A clear obsession here in the Valley with no age limit.

    “Everyone knows us basically because of the Hot Cheeto pizza and taco pizza,” said Samuel Moran, manager of Moran’s Pizzeria in Mercedes.

    Moran’s Pizzeria has taken the Valley’s popular demand and turned it into a best seller.

    “It was actually a customer's idea, he wanted to put Hot Cheetos on top of a pepperoni pizza and from there a customer saw it. At that moment e decided to create a Hot Cheeto pizza from there,” said Moran.

    The Hot Cheeto pizza mimics the popular Hot Cheetos with cheese, that can be found practically anywhere in the Valley.

    The pizza is topped off with Hot Cheeto crumbles which are made out of Hot Cheeto puffs, finishing it off with nacho cheese and jalapenos.

    “It has become one of our most popular. Actually, it's the top seller at the moment,” said Moran.

    These popular red chips are landing kids in the emergency room.

    “The patient go to the ER from bleeding from both sides and abdominal pain. It’s most likely Pepto Ulcer Diseases and that comes with eating, mostly spicy food,” said Dr. Nelson Spinetti, Pediatric Gastroenterologist in Edinburg.

    (Source: KGBT Photo)

    Dr. Spinetti says his office sees at least 15 to 17 patients a day related to Hot Cheetos and spicy food.

    “You can have esophagitis, you can have gastritis, you can have dual in the small inflammation. Sometimes you can have colitis related too so it's all the way until we say the irritant gets out of the symptom after pooping,” said Dr. Spinetti.

    Patients are ranging 3 to 7-years-old, with gastritis, ulcers, and in rare cases, internal bleeding.

    “It’s designed to make you addicted from very young in life, so they can continue profit,” said Dr. Spinetti.

    According to Dr. Spinetti, the spiciness of the chip is addicting, releasing natural endorphins.

    “If you have an irritation or any type of pain, then you start to develop hormones to control pain that we call endorphins that become addictive too,” said Dr. Spinetti.

    Dr. Debasish Bandyopadhyay, a Medicinal Chemist at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, said the ingredients inside Hot Cheetos is damaging our insides.

    “The bottom line is that your acidity in stomach will be increased abruptly,” said Dr. Deb.

    Dr. Deb said piperine is the substance that makes food hot when looking at the ingredients of Hot Cheetos. Dr. Deb could not find piperine or any other ingredients that make food hot.

    “When I checked the ingredients, I did not see piperine and I’m pretty sure piperine is responsible that causes the hotness, the flaming hot stuff,” said Dr. Deb.

    One of the ingredients found is natural and artificial flavors, which federal laws allow companies to use to avoid listing all the ingredients to prevent theft.

    Dr. Deb says if you can’t stop eating Hot Cheetos, reduce your intake. “Maybe once in a month, twice in a month you are good, but don't take too much.”

    As for the sellers, “It's something very big here in the Valley and you should stop by and give it a try,” said Moran.

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