Meth Users Have 76 Percent Higher Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
People who use methamphetamines may have a 76 percent higher likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a recent study.
Researchers at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health say the connection may lie in the way methamphetamines, or meth, harm the neurons related to dopamine. Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the central nervous system that kills the cells located in the midbrain region that contains dopamine, although researchers do not know exactly what causes these cells to cease.
Over time, methamphetamine has been shown in brain imaging studies to change the way the dopamine system functions and to cause problems with motor skills and the ability to retain verbal information. Serious structural damage has also been noted in the brain areas linked with the ability to remember information and to manage emotions.
Methamphetamines, part of the stimulant class of drugs, belong to one of the most commonly used illegal categories of drugs across the globe. Because of its high potential for abuse, methamphetamine is a Schedule II drug and is available to patients only by a prescription and in limited quantities.
Researchers also stated in an article on CBC News that the higher risk of Parkinson’s disease is not applicable to patients taking amphetamines for conditions like ADHD or medicinal purposes, because they use much smaller, medically approved dosages. The research study results are included in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal.
During the study, researchers looked at the medical reports for 40,000 California patients who had been hospitalized for methamphetamine use over a 15-year period. They also examined thousands more records for patients admitted for cocaine and appendicitis. They compared this data to records of Parkinson’s disease found on death records or hospital records, determining a link between methamphetamine use and the presence of Parkinson’s disease.