A  A  A   Print
Eating Peppers Tied to Lower Parkinson's Risk, Study Finds

Eating Peppers Tied to Lower Parkinson's Risk, Study Finds

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 new study.

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 Solanaceae and some plants in this family are edible sources of nicotine.

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 Solanaceae plant 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 the journal Annals of Neurology.

The apparent protection offered by Solanaceae vegetables 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 Foundation.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about Parkinson's disease.

SOURCES: Kelly Changizi, M.D., assistant professor, neurology and co-director, Center for Neuromodulation, Mount Sinai Parkinson and Movement Disorders Center, New York City; Andrew Feigin, M.D., Parkinson's disease researcher, the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, N.Y.; Annals of Neurology, news release, May 9, 2013

 
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.