Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mayo clinic study finds occupation and education influence risk for Parkinson’s disease

23.11.2005


No need to change career or educational plans to lower risk, however, researchers say



Mayo Clinic researchers have found that an individual’s educational and career paths impact Parkinson’s disease risk later in life. This report will appear in the Nov. 22 issue of the journal Neurology, http://www.aan.com/publications/journal/index.cfm.

The investigators, led by Walter Rocca, M.D., a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist, discovered the highest increase in Parkinson’s risk in people with nine or more years of education. They also found that risk level rises as years of schooling increase. Occupationally, physicians had the greatest increased risk for Parkinson’s compared to the general population, while those employed as construction and extractive workers (e.g., miners, well drillers), production workers (e.g., machine operators, fabricators), metalworkers and engineers had the lowest risk increase. The researchers also note that this study did not find farmers and other agricultural workers at increased risk for Parkinson’s.


The Mayo Clinic investigators advise caution in interpreting this study. "Our findings for education and occupation are complex, and therefore they need to be interpreted with care," says Roberta Frigerio, M.D., the study’s first author and former Mayo Clinic research fellow. "These factors may be surrogates for a variety of exposures, physical activity, personality or socioeconomic status. Further studies are needed to interpret our findings."

Demetrius (Jim) Maraganore, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and study investigator, agrees. "We really can’t say from this study that education and occupation are causal factors in Parkinson’s disease; we can only say that they are associated," says Dr. Maraganore. "I don’t think that schooling or wearing a stethoscope causes brain cells to degenerate or that digging holes with a digger protects your brain cells from atrophy, but I think that these are indirect indicators of factors that may relate to brain degeneration. And now what we need to do is use these clues to try and identify those molecular level events that differentiate these people."

Suggested Applications of Study Findings

The utility of the study’s findings concerning occupation, education and Parkinson’s disease risk is primarily informational rather than actionable for members of the public, according to Dr. Maraganore. This is especially true in light of the relatively low overall lifetime risk for Parkinson’s for any given person, he says.

"Really, nobody should do anything differently based on these findings," says Dr. Maraganore. "These findings are not at all intended to change anybody’s behaviors. I think that the bottom line is that we’re talking about going from a baseline risk of 2 percent to develop Parkinson’s disease during a lifetime to a risk of 4 percent if you are highly educated or a physician, or 1 percent if you are less educated or more physically active. So, I wouldn’t change your schooling plans or your occupation based on these findings. I would just welcome these findings as new clues about possible causes of Parkinson’s disease that will hopefully lead to the ultimate answers."

Dr. Maraganore also notes that the study’s findings should be reassuring to farmers, welders or other metalworkers, who were not found in this study to be at increased risk for Parkinson’s due to their occupations, in contrast to previous studies.

Potential Explanations of the Study’s Findings

The researchers explain that the increased Parkinson’s risk found for physicians and more educated individuals could be partly explained by earlier recognition and detection of the disease, in addition to better access to specialized medical care. However, nonphysicians and physicians in the study had a similar time between onset of symptoms and diagnosis of Parkinson’s, which would speak against increased recognition of the disease due to education or profession.

The explanation for the four occupational groups found to have a reduced risk of Parkinson’s compared to the general population also remains uncertain, according to the investigators. The findings may be due to chance, some bias due to higher nonparticipation rate in the telephone interview portion of the study among these occupational groups, or to confounding due to lower education and resulting decreased recognition of Parkinson’s. Occupation may be a surrogate for physical activity level in the findings, leading to a higher risk in more sedentary professions such as physicians and lower risk in service occupations which involve greater motor skills use. The study investigators emphasize that these associations do not imply causality, however. Physical activity (recreation or work related) may protect against Parkinson’s disease, but it is also possible that people predisposed to develop Parkinson’s disease avoid strenuous activity earlier in life.

Dr. Maraganore explains that early Parkinson’s disease could account for some of the educational and occupational risk findings. "It could be that people with Parkinson’s disease have premorbid personalities that make them like education," he says. "For example, dopamine is the reward chemical in the brain and is deficient in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease. So, if you have a long-standing deficiency of dopamine, you may be less likely to party and more likely to sit at your desk and study. So, in these ways early, undetected disease can subtly shape your pattern of behaviors, giving the impression that education is a risk factor for the disease when in fact it’s really an early manifestation."

How the Study Was Conducted

In this study, the researchers identified medical records of all individuals who had developed Parkinson’s from 1976 to 1995 in Olmsted County, Minn., home of Mayo Clinic. All Parkinson’s patients were then matched to someone similar in age and gender who did not have Parkinson’s. The investigators collected information about education and occupations from a medical record review and also a telephone interview with the study individuals, using the 1980 Standard Occupational Classification to code each person’s profession.

Lisa Lucier | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mayo.edu
http://www.mayoclinic.com
http://www.aan.com/publications/journal/index.cfm

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

nachricht Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>