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Heredity Plays Part in Parkinson's

Genetic and environmental factors may be linked to disease in the Navajo

TUESDAY, June 18, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Genetic and environmental factors may be linked to cases of Parkinson's disease in the Navajo of New Mexico, says a University of Florida researcher.

Dr. Jill Marjama-Lyons pinpointed a cluster of Parkinson's disease in the Navajo, and evaluated 50 of the people with Parkinson's to determine potential factors. Her assessments included detailed family, work and environmental histories, and neurological exams.

Her study showed the 50 people shared a number of common factors. They were all were born, raised, and currently live in the rural four corners of the southwestern United States. They all also drank from well water or natural water sources.

Marjama-Lyons also found that during childhood most of the people in the study were involved in dipping sheep into insecticides. Moreover, many shared the same kinds of work, including sheep herding, rug weaving, jewelry making, farming, coal or uranium mining, or jobs at an agricultural plant.

The study also found 27 percent of the people had a family history of Parkinson's.

The author concludes the high rate of family history for Parkinson's indicates an inherited form of Parkinson's in the Navajo. She also believes several environmental factors may prove to be linked to Parkinson's in the Navajo.

More information

The National Parkinson Foundation has more information on the role of heredity in Parkinson's disease.

SOURCE: University of Florida news release
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