Washington: Eating food, which contains even a small amount of nicotine, like peppers and tomatoes, may help reduce risk of developing Parkinson`s disease, a new study has claimed.
According to the research, Solanaceae-a flowering plant family with some species producing foods that are edible sources of nicotine-may provide a protective effect against Parkinson`s disease.
Parkinson`s disease is a movement disorder that is caused by loss of brain cells that produce dopamine. Its symptoms include facial, hand, arm, and leg tremors, stiffness in the limbs, loss of balance, and slower overall movement.
For the present population-based study Dr. Susan Searles Nielsen and her colleagues from the University of Washington in Seattle recruited 490 patients newly diagnosed with Parkinson`s disease at the university`s Neurology Clinic or a regional health maintenance organization, Group Health Cooperative.
Another 644 unrelated people without neurological conditions were used as controls.
Questionnaires were used to assess their lifetime diets and tobacco use, which researchers defined as ever smoking more than 100 cigarettes or regularly using cigars, pipes or smokeless tobacco.
Vegetable consumption in general did not affect Parkinson`s disease risk, but as consumption of edible Solanaceae increased, Parkinson`s disease risk decreased, with peppers displaying the strongest association.
Researchers noted that the apparent protection from Parkinson`s occurred mainly in men and women with little or no prior use of tobacco, which contains much more nicotine than the foods studied.
Nielsen said that similar to the many studies that indicate tobacco use might reduce risk of Parkinson`s, their findings suggests a protective effect from nicotine, or perhaps a similar but less toxic chemical in peppers and tobacco.
The study has been published in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society.