The University of Illinois experiment involved mice that had been genetically engineered to develop a serious type of prostate cancer. The mice were divided into four groups and received one of the following diets between the ages of four and eighteen weeks.
- 10% whole tomato powder
- 2% soy germ
- Both tomato powder and soy germ
- No tomato or soy products
- Group 1: 61%
- Group 2: 66%
- Group 3: 45%
- Group 4: 100%
|Tomatoes may reduce the risk of prostate cancer|
and Parkinson's disease.
Photo by mconnors at morguefile.com
Bell peppers and tomatoes belong to the Solanaceae family of plants, which also contains the tobacco plant. It's already known that smokers seem to have a lower rate of Parkinson's disease, but since smoking can create serious health problems it can't be recommended as a method to reduce the risk of Parkinson's. Smokers inhale nicotine. Like the tobacco plant, peppers and tomatoes contain nicotine (in a low concentration), which enters the body of someone who eats these foods.
While researchers have noticed a link between Parkinson's disease reduction and both smoking and ingestion of plants containing nicotine, they haven't shown that nicotine is the helpful factor. The chemical responsible for the benefit could be a different one. It's also possible that the beneficial chemical in peppers and tomatoes is different from the beneficial chemical in inhaled smoke. The good news is that eating peppers and tomatoes appears to reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease, for whatever reason.