-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- Eating vegetables that
naturally contain nicotine, such as peppers and tomatoes, may
reduce your risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a
Previous research has found that smoking and other types of
tobacco use are associated with a lower risk of developing
Parkinson's disease, and it is believed that nicotine provides the
protective effect. Tobacco belongs to a plant family called
Solanaceaeand some plants in this family are edible sources
This new study included nearly 500 people who were newly
diagnosed with Parkinson's and another 650 unrelated people who did
not have the neurological disorder, which is typically marked by
tremors and other movement problems. The study participants
provided information about their tobacco use and diets.
In general, vegetable consumption had no effect on Parkinson's
risk. The more vegetables from the
Solanaceaeplant family that people ate, however, the lower
their risk of Parkinson's disease. This association was strongest
for peppers, according to the study, which was published May 9 in
Annals of Neurology.
The apparent protection offered by
Solanaceaevegetables occurred mainly in people with little
or no prior use of tobacco, which contains much more nicotine than
the foods included in the study.
"Our study is the first to investigate dietary nicotine and risk of developing Parkinson's disease," Dr. Susan Searles Nielsen, of the University of Washington in Seattle, said in a journal news release. "Similar to the many studies that indicate tobacco use might reduce risk of Parkinson's, our findings also suggest a protective effect from nicotine, or perhaps a similar but less toxic chemical in peppers and tobacco."
Nielsen and her colleagues recommended further studies to
confirm and extend their findings, which could lead to ways to
prevent Parkinson's disease.
Although the study found an association between consumption of
certain nicotine-containing foods and lower risk of Parkinson's, it
could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Still, one Parkinson's expert called the study "intriguing."
"It provides further evidence of how diet can influence our susceptibility to neurological disease -- specifically Parkinson's disease," said Dr. Kelly Changizi, co-director of the Center for Neuromodulation at the Mount Sinai Parkinson and Movement Disorders Center in New York City. "Patients often ask what role nutrition plays in their disease, so it's very interesting that nicotine in vegetables such as peppers may be neuroprotective."
Another expert said more research into the role of nicotine in
Parkinson's disease is already underway.
"The observation that cigarette smokers have a reduced risk for Parkinson's disease has long been known, and has raised the idea that nicotine may reduce the risk for [the illness]," said Dr. Andrew Feigin, who is investigating the illness at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y.
"A nicotine skin patch is currently being tested in patients with early Parkinson's disease," he said.
The illness occurs due to a loss of brain cells that produce a
chemical messenger called dopamine. The symptoms of the disease
include loss of balance, slower movement and tremors and stiffness
in the face and limbs. There is currently no cure for the disorder.
Nearly 1 million Americans -- and 10 million people worldwide --
have Parkinson's, according to the Parkinson's Disease
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
has more about
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Information Services. All rights reserved.