1. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Increase in incidence of Parkinson's Disease?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by EdFromNY, Mar 1, 2014.

    My wife just learned that her cousin's husband has Parkinson's. I have a cousin with the disease, as well as a brother-in-law. For a disease that affects less than 0.5% of the population, that strikes me as an unusually high incidence rate for one extended family.

    I've tried doing some searches on the incidence of the disease, but can only get current data. What I'm curious about is comparative data. Does anyone know of any authoritative studies that show the rate of increase in the incidence of this disease over, say, the past 10 years or so?
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry to hear about your wife's cousin's husband Ed,
    hmmm, causes for outbreaks of disease's in unusually high numbers... Flu shots? other vaccinations? GMO foods? They won't tell us anyway...
     
  3. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry to hear about that Ed. I'm not surprised by the increase in the disease given the number of people put on new age medications, and the side effects they bring. I was taking a medicine, and over a two year time the shakes of my body had gotten so bad they put me on the same medicine they give Parkinson's patients called Cogentin. It didn't work for me, and my tremors got to the point I couldn't carry even a glass of water or a plate of food. It's very scary to think about being that way the rest of my life. I eventually got off the medicine and the tremors started to go away. I hope they can find better treatments soon.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @Lewdog - really sorry to hear about that. I can't think of anything more scary or frustrating than not being able to completely control you're own body. My brother-in-law was becoming really impaired and then they put him on new medication and his speech really improved. Too much of medical practice has become, "Try this...no, this...um, how 'bout this?" Not very effective. Hang in there.

    @erebh - we've seen a lot of that kind of thing with autism. Whatever scapegoat is found is usually wrong, and chasing it deflects attention from the real culprit, whatever it may be. I don't have any particular cause in mind for Parkinson's, I'm just wondering if they should be looking for one.
     
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  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    One compounding factor in the incidence of age related disease is we are living longer, so the rates are increasing but it's not easy to separate out an increase in prevalence vs an increase in the age group the disease is more common in.

    Sorry to hear about these cases but there are some promising treatments on the horizon including some that are available today.
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hey Ed, I'm sorry to hear of you family's struggle with Parkinson's. I'm not aware of any studies definitely showing an overall increased incidence in Parkinson's, in a way that you suggested, but the development of Parkinson's can be strongly genetically influenced in some cases. Also, people are living longer so get the chance to develop it, and we are getting much better at diagnosing it, so it could be that that accounts for the increase. There are some environmental factors that can trigger its development in genetically susceptible individuals, and also people can remain undiagnosed for a long time if they don't have access to adequate healthcare, so there's been much controversy in explaining certain population variations. In any case, it's one of the best studied neurological conditions and treatment is getting better over time, so hopefully with stem cell research we can even get a cure.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    A good friend of mine has Parkinson's, and he's been given a brain implant (at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, here in Scotland, which helped pioneer its use) that controls his tremors to the extent that he can sit and work jigsaw puzzles, play scrabble, etc.

    It has a strange side effect, in that his speech becomes muffled and garbled when he has the implant control (which he carries with him) turned high enough to stop the tremors.

    If he dials the control down, his tremors increase, but his speech becomes more intelligible. One time, when his battery totally failed, he was flailing all over the place and had to be physically restrained–but his speech returned instantly to its original standard, and he was able to talk freely and be totally understood. Very weird trade-off.

    He's gone past the phase where any of the medication helps him. He's now off Parkinson's medication completely and relies on the implant to give him some semblance of a normal life. He still can't walk around without help, but at least he can still enjoy many other hobbies requiring motor control. It's a blessing indeed, and he admits this has probably saved his life, as the physical stress of tremors would have overtaxed his body a long time ago.
     
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  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @GingerCoffee - I thought about the coincidence of longer lifespans and a possible increased incidence of Parkinson's. But two of the three individuals I mentioned developed the disease in their early 50s.

    @jazzabel - actually, my "cousin" in this case is really my step-cousin, so none of the three individuals I mentioned are blood relations, either to me or with each other. It struck me as unusual that, with a disease that affects such a small percentage of the population, three people I happen to know would contract it. If you statistically sampled a population of 300 million (using random selection techniques), what are the odds that you would select three people known to you?

    @jannert - I've not heard of that. It sounds like a promising technique. I wonder if it's available here in the US?

    Thanks to all for your good wishes.
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure if this website is readable in the USA, but this is the implant I was referring to: http://www.parkinsons.org.uk/content/deep-brain-stimulation
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @jannert - yes, it's readable. Thanks very much.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @EdFromNY : I know what you mean. It's difficult, because in medicine there are no absolutes and the stats mean nothing to an individual, ultimately speaking. These days many people, like insurance companies, drug companies, public health organisations, even the media, focus on the stats, usually on the values for the 'average'. If you delve deeper into the stats you realise how meaningless those values really are, since averages can easily be composed solely of the extremes which mathematically give a value which although correct, is meaningless to everyone involved in its calculation.

    There may be some environmental factor involved that can be responsible for increased 'incidence' of Parkinson's in the group you mentioned, or incidental or non-incidental genetic predisposition, or they are of the specific demographic which is more likely to develop this illness. Or none of the above because genuinely, every one of those people 'beat' the small odds. And maybe you beat the highest odds of all for knowing them. It'd take a study to try and figure it out :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The onset of Parkinson's between the age of 50-60 represents the beginning of the age related onset curve, especially for males.

    http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/157/11/1015/F1.expansion.html

    There is also something called a cluster effect in epidemiology that essentially means coincidental clusters are not necessarily significant.

    On the other hand:
    http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/157/11/1015.full
    I was particularly disturbed by a news story on Democracy Now last week about a Berkeley professor whose research was suppressed by a pesticide manufacturer and while he eventually published, the company has attempted to discredit his work, has hired researchers to claim the pesticide in question is safe despite the fact the professor's research has been repeated with similar results. It makes one question the system that is supposed to keep a check on pesticides and other chemicals we are exposed to when large profits are involved.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/21/silencing_the_scientist_tyrone_hayes_on
    Only organic corn, and no more canola oil for me. While Parkinson's was not mentioned with this pesticide, breast cancer was.

    Here are the citations referring to pesticides and Parkinson's:
    1. 24.
      Fleming L, Mann JB, Bean J, et al. Parkinson’s disease and brain levels of organochlorine pesticides. Ann Neurol1994;36:100–3.
      CrossRefMedlineWeb of Science
    2. 25.
      Gorell JM, Johnson CC, Rybicki BA, et al. The risk of Parkinson’s disease with exposure to pesticides, farming, well water, and rural living. Neurology 1998;50:1346–50.
      Abstract/FREE Full Text
    3. 26.
      Semchuk KM, Love EJ, Lee RG. Parkinson’s disease and exposure to agricultural work and pesticide chemicals. Neurology1992;42:1328–35.
      Abstract/FREE Full Text
    Looking at the last two, a relationship to herbicides but not pesticides was found, and the risk was from occupational exposure but not necessarily environmental exposure (ie higher concentrations).

    The first study was a pilot study and found there was an indication to look more closely at one specific pesticide: "Dieldrin, a lipid-soluble, long-lasting mitochondrial poison, should be investigated as a potential etiological agent of Parkinsonism."

    Are/were the three people smokers?
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
  13. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've always found it odd that people are not more concerned about the use of pesticides (and to a lesser extent, herbicides), given that their sole purpose is to kill a biological entity with whom we share DNA and a general life process. Do we really expect that exposure to some chemical agent should render an insect unable to live, yet not affect us at all (especially with respect to CNS issues)?
     
  14. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @chicagoliz : It's because by the time general public became aware of these issues, we became largely reliant on the use of those substances. My granddad had a huge fruit orchard, and some trees were for sale others for his personal consumption. He always tried to get us to eat tiny, somewhat oddly shaped fruits, with little irregularities etc, which didn't have any pest control, but we always wanted the big, red, perfectly ripe ones instead, which needed something like seven goes with a pesticide. If you tried to sell the tiny ones in the supermarket, even though they taste better, people wouldn't buy it. I think there's a degree a wilful ignorance for convenience's sake, like with environmental pollution in general.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    When scientific research threatens the corporate bottom line, corporations are very good at manufacturing faux scientific doubt. Not enough people teach themselves and their kids how to determine the difference between good research and paid for science.

    http://www.merchantsofdoubt.org/
     

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