Some foods are so spicy that consuming them can leave the more intolerant of us with an upset stomach. It was once believed that eating lots of spicy food could even cause gastric ulcers—a break in the tissue lining of the stomach—but this has since been proven false, the credit stolen by a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori. If you find yourself retching with pain after lunch at an Indian food buffet, you’ve likely aggravated an existing condition and should probably have it checked out.
So as colorful as the expression is, eating spicy food can’t actually “burn a hole in your stomach”. At least, it shouldn’t be able to, which is why doctors at a hospital in Wuhan, China, were scratching their heads when a 26-year-old man with no history of gastrointestinal disorders was brought in after eating soup so spicy that it opened a hole in the wall of his stomach.