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Increased risk of Parkinson's disease in methamphetamine users, CAMH study finds
Date:7/26/2011

For immediate release - July 26 (Toronto) - People who abused methamphetamine or other amphetamine-like stimulants were more likely to develop Parkinson's disease than those who did not, in a new study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

The researchers examined almost 300,000 hospital records from California covering 16 years. Patients admitted to hospital for methamphetamine or amphetamine-use disorders had a 76 per cent higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease compared to those with no disorder.

Globally, methamphetamine and similar stimulants are the second most commonly used class of illicit drugs.

"This study provides evidence of this association for the first time, even though it has been suspected for 30 years," said lead researcher Dr. Russell Callaghan, a scientist with CAMH. Parkinson's disease is caused by a deficiency in the brain's ability to produce a chemical called dopamine. Because animal studies have shown that methamphetamine damages dopamine-producing areas in the brain, scientists have worried that the same might happen in humans.

It has been a challenge to establish this link, because Parkinson's disease develops in middle and old age, and it is necessary to track a large number of people with methamphetamine addiction over a long time span.

The CAMH team took an innovative approach by examining hospital records from California a state in which methamphetamine use is prevalent from 1990 up to 2005. In total, 40,472 people, at least 30 years of age, had been hospitalized due to a methamphetamine- or amphetamine-use disorder during this period.

These patients were compared to two groups: 207,831 people admitted for appendicitis with no diagnosis of any type of addiction, and 35,335 diagnosed with cocaine use disorders. A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease was identified from hospital records or death certificates. Only the methamphetamine group had an i
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Contact: Michael Torres
media@camh.net
416-595-6015
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Source:Eurekalert

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