More people under 40 suffer from Parkinson's disease

TAIWAN - More and more people under 40 are being afflicted by Parkinson's disease (PD), and the primary reason might be exposure to volatile gases, farm chemicals, and heavy metal toxicity, according to the Hualien Tzu Chi Medical Center.

Drinking tea and coffee regularly may reduce the possibility of becoming afflicted by the disease, the medical center said.

The Tzu Chi Medical Center and Taiwan Tulip Movement Disorder Association held a conference yesterday for World Parkinson's Disease Day on April 11 and invited patients and researchers to speak.

Chen Shin-yuan, a physician at the Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital, studied the lifestyles of 100 PD patients and found that very few of them had been drinking tea or coffee regularly.

Fewer persons with a long history of drinking tea or coffee are afflicted with PD, a finding that is also in keeping with medical research published abroad, Chen said.

Researchers also found that painters and people working in gas stations and electricity power plants are more likely to develop PD.

PD is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, the most obvious symptoms of which are movement related. In the early stage, patients may exhibit shaking, rigidity and slowness of movement. Cognitive and behavioral problems might appear later. The cause is still unknown.

Positive Correlation Between Diabetes and PD

A research suggesting positive correlation between diabetes and PD conducted by many Taiwanese medical scholars was published in US medical journal Diabetes Care and broadcast on Fox News.

The research suggests that this positive correlation is most obvious for young patients.

Researchers concluded that common causes might exist for PD and diabetes.

For people more than 9 years old and suffering from diabetes, 3.6 cases of PD were found among 10,000 people per year, while 2.1 cases were found among 10,000 people per year among those who did not have diabetes, according to the research.

The relation between diabetes and PD is stronger in younger persons, the study said. For females from 40 to 50 years old, those who have diabetes are twice more likely to be affected by PD. Similar result was found for males from 20 to 30, according to the research.

A recent study in the United States also shows a similar result. The US study found that among the 21,600 people with diabetes, 0.8 per cent were diagnosed with PD, while only 0.5 per cent of people without diabetes were diagnosed with PD.