There’s not a lot of good news in this world for meth users, so we’ll just throw this one on top of their bad news pile. Research from the University of Utah and Intermountain Healthcare shows that meth users are three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than non-drug users.
The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, looked through 40,000 records dating from 1996-2011 in the Utah Population Database. The results backed up an earlier study done using the records of 250,000 California hospital discharge patients that found a similar risk for Parkinson’s among meth users. However, the California study did not break cases down by gender and only took into account inpatients.
Researchers using the Utah data divided the records into three different groups: Meth users with no other drug use; cocaine users; and a control group, with no history of drug use. They determined that cocaine users were not at an increased risk for Parkinson’s. Glen R. Hanson, a drug expert said, “We feel comfortable that it’s just meth causing the risk for Parkinson’s, and not other drugs or a combination of meth and other drugs.”
If you are specifically female and are using meth, that makes you five times more likely to get Parkinson’s when compared to women who abstain from drug use. Researchers aren’t sure exactly what makes women more likely to develop the disease after using meth, but they noted that, in general, women don’t develop Parkinson’s as often as men do. First author of the study, Karen Curtin, notes, “If meth addiction leads to sharply increased incidence of Parkinson’s disease in women, we should all be concerned.”