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2013-05-10

Smoking to Prevent Parkinson's Disease?

Well...the direct answer to the title above is "yes," but everyone knows that the picture is much more complex than that and smoking tobacco has unequivocally been shown to be harmful to overall health. However, this is a prime example of why I say, "nothing is 100% good, and nothing is 100% bad."

The observation that smokers have a lower risk of Parkinson's disease (PD) has been consistently reported in more than 60 epidemiological studies, and the protective role seems to be related to nicotine (although not confirmed).


This was the basis of a new study looking at PD--and the real reason I'm writing this article today (c'mon...did really think I was going to promote smoking tobacco?!). Peppers are in the same botanical family as tobacco--the Solanaceae family--and eating foods that contain even a small amount of nicotine (such as peppers) may reduce the risk of PD, according to the new findings.

In this population-based study, researchers found that increased consumption of edible forms of Solanaceae plants was associated with a lower risk of developing PD, with peppers displaying the strongest effect. The results show that consumption of all edible Solanaceae plants lowered risk of PD by 19%, but consumption of all other vegetables combined showed no reduction in risk at all.

When the researchers weighted the foods by nicotine concentration, they found that eating peppers only 2-4 times a week resulted in a dramatic 30% reduction in PD risk!

It's a good thing I grew up on "gochujung" (a fermented Korean hot red pepper paste).  :)

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Source: Nicotine from edible Solanaceae and risk of Parkinson disease

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