Entries in Parkinson's Disease (12)


Head Injury, Herbicide Linked to Parkinson's Disease in Survey

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Adults who reported ever having had a head injury and who were exposed to the herbicide paraquat had nearly a three-fold increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a survey published Monday in the journal Neurology.

Researchers at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health surveyed more than 1,000 adults ages 35 and older who lived in central California.  Some 357 of the participants were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a movement disorder characterized by tremors and loss of coordination.

Participants with the disease were nearly twice as likely as those without the disease to report having had a head injury in which they lost consciousness for more than five minutes.

Using a geographical tracking system, the researchers also found that those with Parkinson's disease were also more likely to live within 500 meters of a spot where paraquat was used.  Paraquat is a chemical liquid commonly used to kill plants and weeds.

"While each of these two factors is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's on their own, the combination is associated with greater risk than just adding the two factors together," Dr. Beate Ritz, lead author of the study, said in a public statement.

The trauma from the brain injury may leave brain cells more vulnerable to the exposure of the toxic pesticide, Ritz said.

While there are no definitive causes for Parkinson's disease, the study is one of many to suggest that environmental factors, not just genetic variations, may be likely triggers in some cases, many experts said.

"This demonstrates the importance of considering multiple risk factors in combination when assessing a person's risk of [Parkinson's disease]," said Dr. David Simon, associate professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

The study also adds to growing data on the harmful effects of pesticide exposure.

"Based on the current study, this recommendation to avoid heavy pesticide exposure may be particularly important for people who have a history of significant head trauma with loss of consciousness for more than 5 minutes, as they may be particularly susceptible to the subsequent effects of pesticide exposure," said Simon.

But besides recommending that adults avoid brain injury and exposure to chemicals -- which doctors would do anyhow -- "it would be inappropriate for clinicians to do anything with this information, other than be aware," said Dr. David Cifu, chairman of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond.

The study is not strong enough to suggest that pesticides or even a traumatic brain injury can cause Parkinson's disease, only that in this group, some kind of link can be made between the three.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Caffeine Can Provide Modest Relief of Parkinson's Symptoms  

Gerald Zanetti/FoodPix(MONTREAL) -- It seems that a few cups of coffee can help relieve some symptoms of Parkinson's disease, Canadian researchers have found.
While earlier studies have shown that those who consume caffeine are less likely to get Parkinson's, a new study in the journal Neurology has found that caffeine can also relieve Parkinson's symptoms.

Parkinson's disease attacks the central nervous system, causing such symptoms as sleepiness, shaking, muscle rigidity, and difficulty walking and moving.

For the study, researchers at McGill University gave 61 Parkinson's patients either a placebo or caffeine in doses equivalent to two to four cups of coffee per day. After six weeks, they found that those who took the caffeine were just as sleepy, but they did experience modest improvement of other Parkinson's symptoms relating to mobility.

"This is modest improvement, but may be enough to provide benefit to patients.  On the other hand, it may not be sufficient to explain the relationship between caffeine non-use and Parkinson's, since studies of the progression of Parkinson's symptoms early in the disease suggest that a five-point reduction would delay diagnosis by only six months," McGill University researcher Dr. Ronald Postuma, M.D., M.Sc., said in a statement.
The study's authors urge further study of caffeine and its benefits for those with Parkinson's.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gene Predicts Parkinson's Progression

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Parkinson's disease, often associated with boxer Muhammad Ali and actor Michael J. Fox, affects one million Americans, according to the National Parkinson Foundation.

While the exact causes largely remain a mystery, doctors know that the condition arises from the degeneration of a specific area of the brain involved in movement.  As a result, those with Parkinson's experience tremors, rigidity, slowness in moving, and difficulty with balancing and walking.  The disease eventually leads to mood disorders and dementia.

Not only is there no cure for Parkinson's, but many patients have no way of knowing how quickly their symptoms will progress.  However, a new study from UCLA may help. 

Researchers have found two variants on a gene already known to be associated with Parkinson's that may be able to predict how quickly patients with the condition will deteriorate.  The study found that patients with one particular variant were four times as likely to have rapid decline of motor function.  Those patients having both of the variants studied were even more likely to see their disease progress more quickly.

The information is important, as patients who have more severe motor disease tend to die sooner.

Dr. Beate Ritz, vice chair of epidemiology at UCLA and the neurologist who conducted the study, stated that up to now, there has been no way to gather this information from a patient's genes.  Finding the telltale signs of a faster decline, she said, helps doctors in "identifying patients who will most benefit from early interventions."

Ritz's study observed 233 patients in California for an average of more than five years -- making it the largest study of its kind on Parkinson's disease motor symptoms to date.

Dr. Puneet Opal, an expert in movement disorders at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, said the study poses an interesting idea, at least in terms of the basic mechanism of the disease.  However, he said he doesn't believe it will change the management of Parkinson's patients very much.

"If I knew that my patient had one of these genetic variants, I wouldn't treat him any differently than my other Parkinson's patients," he said.  The next step, Opal said, would be to figure out exactly how the brain is damaged by Parkinson's disease.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Eating Berries, Drinking Tea May Cut Men's Risk for Parkinson's  

Hemera/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- While Parkinson's disease is on the rise, now there may be a way to reduce the probability of men getting the disorder of the central nervous system, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology.
Research from Harvard University suggest that eating foods such as berries and apples and drinking tea and red wine may protect you against the disease. That's because these food and drink items are rich in flavonoids, a water-soluble pigment, that helps to inhibit the onset of Parkinson's.

Researchers studied around 130,000 men and women for over 20 years, and 800 developed Parkinson's.

Among men, there was a 40-percent decrease in developing Parkinson's disease for those who ate the most flavonoids compared to those who ate the least.

Eating berries more than five times a week apparently had the strongest benefit -- but only for men. It is still unclear why flavonoids have no measurable impact on preventing Parkinson's disease for women.

"For total flavonoids, the beneficial result was only in men," said lead author of the study, Dr. Xiang Gao, a research scientist at Harvard School of Public Health. "But, berries are protective in both men and women."
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michael J. Fox Drank to Deal with Parkinson’s

Theo Wargo/WireImage for SiriusXM(NEW YORK) -- Michael J. Fox took to alcohol to cope with his Parkinson’s diagnosis.

In an interview in the latest issue of Parade magazine, Fox, 50, said that drinking was his method of coping after finding out that he had Parkinson’s in 1991. “For a time I dealt with it with alcohol, which turned out to be a disaster,” he said. “I’d always been kind of a partier, but this was the first time I was drinking in order not to feel something. It had a dark purpose.”

His wife, Tracy Pollan, helped him stop.

“About a year after my diagnosis, I woke up one morning and saw Tracy’s face. … She said, ‘Is this what you want?’ Instantly I knew -- no, this isn’t what I want or who I am,” he said. “So I quit drinking in ’92. I recognized I had choices about drinking, and that made me realize I had choices about Parkinson’s as well.”

The Spin City star said he no longer looks at living with Parkinson’s “as a battle or as a fight. I’m accepting,” he said. “I say ‘living with’ or ‘working through’ Parkinson’s. Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it. I look at it like I’m a fluid that’s finding the fissures and cracks and flowing through.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Repaired Neuron Cells in Animals Used to Treat Parkinson's disease

PRNewsFoto/Shrink Nanotechnologies, Inc.(NEW YORK) -- A new study shows that human stem cells affected by Parkinson's disease transplanted into mice, rats and monkeys showed an improvement in symptoms.

The study, published by journal Nature on Sunday, describes converting the stem cells to neuron cells. The degenerative disease attacks these cells in humans but the study conducted several tests which showed that the transformation of the stem cells into neuron cells which produced the chemical dopamine, not only survived but helped to slow the symptoms of Parkinson's in monkeys.

The research was conducted by a group of scientists led by Dr. Lorenz Studer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Marty McFly’s Shoes Give Hope for Parkinson’s Research

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- All who have ever admired Marty McFly’s cool kicks from Back to the Future II now have a chance to bid on a pair of their own -- and for a good cause. Nike announced Thursday that 150 pairs of the futuristic high-tops would become available on eBay for 10 days, and the proceeds would go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

“The project … brings together three very passionate audiences: the Parkinson’s community, sneakerheads and Back to the Futur fans,” Michael J. Fox said in a statement.

The shoes -- called Nike Air MAGs, were rebuilt to the exact specifications of the originals. The high-tops include a glowing sole and Nike logo that is activated with a simple pinch of the high-top’s ear. The only thing they don’t do is lace themselves.

It’s the shoe fans have been asking for. A few years ago, an online campaign called McFly 2015, Make It Happen urged Nike to make a version of the shoe for retail.

Even though the price of the limited-edition shoe may be out of reach for most people, Twitter lit up with comments from fans excited about the release.

“I’ve never worn sneaks in my life, but I NEED these,” @jacvanek wrote.

Another person proposed sharing the sneakers.

“Who wants to go halves on the Marty McFly Nikes from BTTF 2? Only about $40,000,” @cameronhurley wrote.

A tweeter named Will Eurich was determined to get his feet into a pair and posted a screen shot of his $4,050 bid. “Wish me luck,” he wrote.

The auction ends Sept. 18.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Links Meth Use to Parkinson's Disease

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- People who take methamphetamine or other stimulants put themselves at far greater risk of contracting Parkinson's disease, according to a new study.

Researchers at Toronto's Center for Addiction and Mental Health said they looked over 300,000 hospital records from patients in California and learned that those hospitalized for use of meth or other amphetamines were 76 percent more likely to develop Parkinson's -- an incurable condition that causes uncontrolled tremors among other symptoms.

Dr. Russell Callaghan, who led the study, says the linkage of Parkinson's disease to meth use has been suspected for three decades but this appears to be the first conclusive proof of cause and effect.

Overdoses of methamphetamine and other stimulants in its category can result in cardiac arrest and death.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gene Therapy Is Successful as Parkinson's Treatment, Study Says

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- There is no magic bullet to cure diseases like Parkinson's. Certain therapies like deep brain stimulation and dopamine drugs are not often successful. But a new study published in Lancet Neurology provides results from a successful phase II gene therapy trial in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

A hallmark of Parkinson’s disease is uncontrolled tremors and movement impairment due to abnormal brain circuitry. In the study, the authors use a sophisticated approach to inject genetic material into the brain cells responsible for motor functions in an attempt to correct the abnormal functioning.

Forty-five patients aged 30-75 years with moderate to advanced Parkinson’s disease were enrolled in the trial, with half of them receiving the gene therapy and the other half getting a “sham surgery." The patients were then tested after six months for their motor score which was based on speech, tremor at rest and facial expressions.

In the results of the trial, researchers found that patients receiving gene therapy had a 23.1-percent improvement in their motor score as compared to 12.7-percent improvement in the control group. Based on these results, the authors conclude that gene therapy can be further developed as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease. This is a first-ever successful phase II clinical trial of a gene therapy for Parkinson’s or any other neurological disorder. The phase I trial was published in 2007.

Unlike ceep brain stimulation which involves the implantation of a medical device called a brain pacemaker, gene therapy does not involve any electrical variables. However, it still remains to be seen if the improvements with this therapy are long-lasting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Ibuprofen May Lower Risk of Parkinson's Disease

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A drug commonly used for aches and pains could be useful against a far more serious ailment.  

Ibuprofen is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug sold over-the-counter under such familiar brand names as Advil and Motrin. Previous studies have suggested that these drugs may decrease the risk of getting Parkinson's disease.  

A new study published in the journal Neurology surveyed ibuprofen use in 136 thousand participants.  After six years, those who took ibuprofen two or more times a week were 38 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's compared to those who hadn't taken the drug.    This was true only with ibuprofen and not with similar drugs such as aspirin, naproxen, or acetaminophen.   

The findings do not mean that those with Parkinson's disease should start taking ibuprofen. The authors conclude that ibuprofen has potential protective effects against Parkinson's, and they advocate further investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio