Preventing Parkinson’s Risk


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Nearly one million people are living with Parkinson’s disease in the U.S. and about 60,000 more are diagnosed with it each year. But can you lower your risk of getting this neuro-degenerative disorder? Ivanhoe reports on intriguing new research.

Parkinson’s is a disease that affects movement causing tremors, stiffness, slowness, and more.

“The pattern of their movement is notable. But also, it affects many of other functions of the brain such as sleep, mood, sometimes cognition,” stated Hooman Azmi, MD, FAANS, a neurosurgeon at Hackensack University Medical Center.

But are there ways to stop the disease before it starts? In a recent study, scientists followed more than 41,000 people for 18 years. During this time, 465 developed Parkinson’s. They found patients with the highest intake of vitamins C and E had a 38 percent reduced risk of Parkinson’s.

Exercise might be another way to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s. According to the Harvard Health Letter, exercising in your thirties and forties decades before Parkinson’s typically occurs may reduce your risk of developing the disease by about 30 percent. Other evidence has shown people who consume caffeine are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Drinking coffee also reduces the risk by up to 30 percent. Green tea and beer may also have a protective effect.

When it comes to exercising to lower Parkinson’s risk, some experts believe the exercise needs to be vigorous to make a difference. On the flip side, other studies have shown that dairy products, especially milk, may increase Parkinson’s disease risk.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.   

REPORT #2845

BACKGROUND: Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. Parkinson’s symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking. They may also have mental and behavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, memory difficulties, and fatigue. Both men and women can have Parkinson’s disease. However, the disease affects about 50 percent more men than women. One clear risk factor for Parkinson’s is age. Although most people with Parkinson’s first develop the disease at about age 60, about 5 to 10 percent of people with Parkinson’s have “early-onset” disease, which begins before the age of 50. Early-onset forms of Parkinson’s are often, but not always, inherited, and some forms have been linked to specific gene mutations.


PARKINSON’S DIET AND EXERCISE: Following a balanced diet boosts the ability to deal with symptoms of Parkinson’s. Many patients will experience constipation due to a slowdown of the digestive system but can prevent this with a diet rich in fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and whole-grain breads and cereals. Medications that treat Parkinson’s can cause dehydration which leads to feeling tired and confused, balance issues, weakness, and kidney problems. So, it’s important to drink plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day. It’s recommended to help maximize the medication’s effects, eat high-protein foods at other times of the day. Exercise can make the greatest impact on the course of Parkinson’s. Symptoms that limit physical ability, such as impaired gait, problems with balance and strength, grip strength, and motor coordination, show improvement with regular cardiovascular exercise, such as on a treadmill. Keeping up with routine daily activities, like washing dishes, folding laundry, yardwork, and shopping helps delay the degeneration of motor symptoms. Anything that gets the heart pumping may help the brain maintain neuroplasticity, which is the ability to maintain old connections and form new ones between the neurons in your brain.


NEW STEM CELL RESEARCH FOR PARKINSON’S: A new approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will allow researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering to open the first clinical trial testing an investigational stem cell therapy aimed at restoring lost brain cells called neurons in people with advanced Parkinson’s disease. “This is a big step for the stem cell field, to finally test a truly “off-the-shelf” dopamine neuron product in patients with Parkinson’s disease,” said Lorenz Studer, MD, Director of MSK’s Center for Stem Cell Biology and a co-inventor of the new therapy. The phase 1 clinical trial, with support from BlueRock Therapeutics, will assess the safety, tolerability, and preliminary efficacy of the new therapy in 10 patients. “This trial is the culmination of a decade of arduous collaborative work that is based on very rigorous science. It is an important milestone on the road towards regenerative brain repair,” said Viviane Tabar, MD, Chair of MSK’s Department of Neurosurgery and an investigator for the upcoming trial.


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Mara Quigley

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