Parkinson’s disease affects 50 out of every one lakh Indians. And those affected are increasingly in the younger age group. Once called the “old man’s disease”, Parkinson’s now strikes those as young as 30-35 years. Actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, when he was just 30.
Every year, 11 April is observed as World Parkinson’s Day. New findings released by The Parkinson’s Institute in the US suggest that environmental factors could have a role to play. The study, carried out in collaboration with Emory University and University of California, Los Angeles, finds that pesticides could be potential risk factors for Parkinson’s.
In India, a number of doctors and groups are trying to help patients and their families cope with the disease. Leading doctors in the field include Dr Paresh Doshi, associated with Jaslok Hospital and Wockhardt Hospital, and Dr Milind Sankhe from Hinduja Hospital. The Parkinson's Disease Foundation of India operates a support group that helps spread awareness about the disease among patients and families to deal with the emotional issues associated with it. Pran, an NGO run by Dr Madhuri Behari from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, too, is working towards the same objective. Surgical approaches to treat Parkinson’s have once again come to the fore since drug-based treatments have shown side-effects like dizziness and nausea. At the same time, there have been dramatic improvements in neurosurgical techniques and neuroimaging.
Go green, quit smoking
A diet of milk, water, fruit and vegetables could help smokers kick the habit. Researchers at the Duke University Medical Center conducted a first-of-its-kind study to explore the taste-altering effects of food and beverages on cigarette palatability. During the study, 209 smokers were asked to name items that worsened or enhanced the taste of cigarettes. The smokers reported that consuming milk, water, fruit and vegetables worsened the taste of cigarettes, while consuming alcohol, coffee and meat enhanced their taste.
“With a few modifications to their diet—consuming items such as a cold glass of milk that make cigarettes taste bad—smokers can make quitting a bit easier,” said Joseph McClernon, the lead study investigator and an assistant research professor of medical psychiatry at the Duke Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research.
The researchers are now looking at the possibility of using silver acetate, a chemical which is known to alter the taste of cigarettes, to help smokers quit. The additive could be administered in the form of a gum or a lozenge as part of smoking-cessation treatment.