Physician Occupation Linked with Parkinson Disease Risk

Jobs requiring more years of education associated with higher risk of the disease

MONDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- People in jobs requiring higher education, including physicians, are at a greater risk of developing Parkinson disease than those with "low education" occupations, according to a report in the November issue of Neurology. In addition, people with jobs requiring high physical activity are at a lower risk than those with more sedentary jobs.

W.A. Rocca, M.D., M.P.H., of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues identified 196 patients with Parkinson disease living in Olmsted County, Minn., between 1976 and 1995. Their education and occupations were compared with 196 age-matched controls.

The investigators found a dose-effect trend for level of education and risk of Parkinson disease that reached 2.5-fold with 16 years of education or greater. Physicians had a 3.7-fold risk according to medical records. Construction and extractive workers, production workers, metal workers and engineers all had reduced risk of Parkinson disease, the report indicates.

"It is possible that physical activity (recreational or work-related) is protective against Parkinson disease," the authors conclude. "Alternatively, persons predisposed to develop Parkinson disease may avoid strenuous physical activity earlier in life."

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