Parkinson’s disease a risk for users of methamphetamine

METHAMPHETAMINE dependence may lead to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, US addiction specialists warn.

In a study of more than 40,000 Californians admitted to hospital due to methamphetamine use and a control group of patients with appendicitis (as a population proxy), researchers found a 76% increased risk for Parkinson’s disease in the drug users. The methamphetamine users – who were older than 30 years and were followed for 16 years – also had a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease compared to people with cocaine-use disorders.

The study suggested Parkinsonian symptoms may develop in chronic methamphetamine users when they reach middle or older age and have experienced an age-related loss of dopamine neurons, the authors said. 

The findings however may not be applied to people taking stimulants therapeutically, they added. 

Drug Alcohol Depend 2011; online 26 July