February 25, 2009 (Bronx, NY) Women who have more years of fertility (the time from first menstruation to menopause) have a lower risk of developing Parkinsons disease than women with fewer years, according to a large, new study by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.
These findings, involving nearly 74,000 women, suggest that longer exposure to the bodys own, or endogenous, hormones, including estrogen, may help protect the brain cells that are affected by Parkinsons disease, says lead author Rachel Saunders-Pullman, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., assistant professor of neurology at Einstein and attending physician in neurology at Beth Israel Medical Center, an affiliate of Einsteins in Manhattan.
An abstract of the study was released today by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Further study details will be presented at AANs 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25 - May 2, 2009.
After Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease. About 1.5 million Americans currently have Parkinsons, characterized by symptoms that can include tremor (shaking), slowness of movement, rigidity (stiffness), and difficulty with balance. The condition typically develops after the age of 60, although 15 percent of those diagnosed are under 50. There is no cure for Parkinsons, although medications or surgery can ease symptoms of the disease.
Parkinsons disease is almost twice as common in men as in women, and researchers have long hypothesized that sex hormones might play a role in the disease.
In the current study, researchers analyzed the records of the Womens Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study and focused on those women who developed Parkinsons disease. The study involved about 73,973 women who underwent natural menopause.
The study found that women who had a fertile lifespan of more than 39 years had about a 25 percent lower r
|Contact: Deirdre Branley|
Albert Einstein College of Medicine