First of its kind study shows significant increase of Parkinson’s disease since 1976. Good news: it might be preventable!
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by rigidity, tremor, postural instability, and slowness of movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Read more
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA, included more than 1000 Parkinson’s patients in the study and investigated their medical records from birth to death between 1976 and 2005. The data comes from the Rochester Epidemiology Project. The study was recently published in the Journal JAMA Neurology
• Rates of Parkinson’s increased steadily since 30 years.
• Men have a 17% higher risk to develop Parkinson’s than woman.
• Smoking: there seems to be a link between decrease in smoking and increase in Parkinson’s.
• Pesticides: there seems to be a link between increase use of herbicides and pesticides in agriculture and increase in Parkinson’s.
The authors of the study conclude: “We have reasons to believe that this is a real trend”
“The trend cannot be explained by genetic factors because the genetic risk of Parkinson’s disease is extremely low in the general population [so] the cause [of the increase] must be environmental or lifestyle”
Other environmental factors such as chemicals in the air, water, or soil may play a role as well. Life style factors such as poor diet, too less physical activity and others are also in the discussion.
These findings are very interesting since life style and environmental factors can be changed. Therefore further research in this direction is needed.
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In Parkinson’s disease, certain nerve cells (neurons) in the brain gradually break down or die. These certain nerve cells are responsible for the design, the development and the realization of movements. The loss of neurons results in a decreased dopamine level in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical messenger between nerve cells.