Description and Risks
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive movement disorder marked by tremors, rigidity, slow movements (bradykinesia), and postural instability. It is a chronic, progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by decreased production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Dopamine is responsible for most of the body’s smooth muscle movements. As a result, motor control in Parkinson’s patients is disrupted, causing anything from uncontrollable tremors to muscular stiffness to slow-as-molasses movements. (2) PD affects about 500,000 people in the United States, both men and women, with as many as 50,000 new cases each year. The disease usually begins in a person’s late 50’s and 60’s; it causes a progressive decline in movement control, affecting the ability to control initiation, speed, and the smoothness of motion. The symptoms of PD are seen in up to 15% of those between the ages of 65-74, and almost 30% of those were between the ages of 75-84. (3)
Scientist identified two gene abnormalities present in PD patients whose families have a rate of the disease, indicating at least some evidence that the disease is inherited. Both abnormalities cause the body to produce an altered version of alpha synuclein, the protein that shows up in dense masses in the brains of Parkinson’s patients. (3). But in another study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested heredity is a significant influence on how fast the disease will onset. Researchers identified 172 twin pairs in which at least one twin had PD. If the condition was hereditary, the rate of both twins having the disease would be lower among fraternal twins, who share some, but not all of the same genes unlike identical twins who share them all. In individuals who were diagnosed after age 50, the rate of twins who both had the disease was similar among fraternal and identical twins. In those diagnosed at 50 or younger, however, the rate was significantly lower in fraternal twins than in identical twins (2). Researchers also think that PD has environmental risks such as increase exposure to toxic chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, or heavy metals. For example, some studies of people liv...
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...one, L., Bagala, A., Napoli, I.D., Caracciolo, M. & Quattnone, A. (2001) Plasma levels of Vitamin E in Parkinson’s disease. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics 33:7-12.
6. Miklya, I., Knoll, B. & Knoll, J. (2003) A pharmacological analysis elucidating why, in contrast to (-)- deprenyl (selegiline), alpha-tocopherol was ineffective in the DATATOP Study. Life Sciences 72:2641-2648
10. Parashevas, G.P., Kapaki, E., Petropoulou, O., Anagnostouli, M., Vagenas, V. & Papageorgiou, L. (2003) Plasma levels of Antioxidant Vitamins C and E are decreased in vascular Parkinsonism. Journal or Neurological Sciences. 215:51-55.
11. Roghani, M. & Behzadi, G., (2001) Neuroprotective effect of vitamin E on the early model of Parkinson’s disease in rat: behavioral and histochemical evidence. Brain Research 892:211-217.
12. Vatassery, G.T., Demaster, E.G., Lai, James C.K., Smith, W.E. & Quach, H.T. (2003) Iron uncouples oxidative phosphorylation in brain mitochondria isolated from vitamin E-deficient rats. Biochemical et Biophysical Acta 1688:265-273.
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