Friday, May 10, 2013

Peppers and tomatoes

 I've got a feeling this piece of research into Parkinson's and tomatoes and peppers may miss the point.
Let me declare an interest - a close relative has just died from Parkinson's; and then a second interest, a very personal one. There has been evidence in the past linking Parkinson's to a history of allergic conditions. I'm a little worried.

The researchers here set out to show that tomatoes and peppers help to "protect" against Parkinson's. Their thesis is that these two fruits contain nicotine - which is thought to protect against Parkinson's. So they find that people who get Parkinson's don't eat many tomatoes and peppers.

As it happens my relative did not eat many tomatoes. Neither do I, nor many peppers - because I am allergic to them. My relative never had an allergy diagnosed - but he did not like tomatoes and I watched once when he ate one. Shortly after he reached for his hanky as his nose began running. Yes, I am concerned we may share genes.

This piece of research may be what's known as a failure of causation. It may well be that tomatoes and peppers do not "protect" against Parkinson's but help cause it - but because they cause it through allergic reactions, susceptible people actively avoid them, thereby eating less of the substance. Or it may be a bit of both.

What continues to be frustrating is the way a whole range of medical research simply fails to display joined up thinking. There are some people who recognise that allergic syndromes cause general inflammation - but they are few and far between. I know there are some in medicine who recognise that super-specialisation is the wrong way forward - it means that researchers and doctors simply fail to make connections.