A study by the University of Minnesota's Hormel Institute in Austin concluded a chemical in over-the-counter pain creams can act as a carcinogen.
Researchers found a connection between the development of skin cancer and capsaicin -- a chemical found in chili peppers that's also used in topical pain relief creams.
Ann Bode, the associate director of the institute, said the possibility that capsaicin causes inflammation and may result in skin cancer is a critical result of the study.
"I think people just need to be cautious in taking, or applying anything like that without, you know, medical advice," Bode. "The idea is that under certain circumstances, that long-term chronic application of anything might be a risk for developing skin cancer."
Researchers found that regular application of the compound on mice resulted in skin cancer.
Bode said people should seek medical advice before using any over-the-counter product for a long time.
The study was published in the September issue of the journal "Cancer Research."