Does taking amphetamine increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease?
The results of a study examining this question were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in April 2011.
In this study the health of 66,348 people was followed up for between 22 and 31 years. The average age of the subjects when they started in the study was 36 years. Parkinson’s disease developed in 1,154 (1.7%) of the subjects. When the types of medication the subjects were taking were examined it appeared that those taking amphetamines were nearly 60% more likely to develop Parkinson’s than those who did not take these drugs.
It is important to point out that, at this stage, we know very little about the ‘quality’ of this research and whether any of the observations noted were of statistical relevance. It is thus too early to jump to conclusions. Normally what happens after a presentation like this at a scientific meeting is that the data is written up and submitted for publication in a medical or scientific journal. The results and conclusions will be rigorously assessed by experts in the field and, if considered adequate the paper will eventually be published. Other workers will carry out studies to see whether the results can be duplicated.
Clearly these findings, if valid, do suggest that the potential risk of developing Parkinson’s disease must be considered by doctors considering the prescription of amphetamines.
As soon as more information on this subject becomes available the website will be updated.