(Natural News) Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease plaguing people today, with an estimated 1 million Americans are battling this illness – more than Lou Gehrig’s disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis combined. Parkinson’s causes certain nerve cells in the brain to die, affecting movement and causing worsening tremors and stiffness. The direct and indirect costs associated with the disease are believed to exceed $25 billion a year.
Now, a disturbing new study by researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center has warned that the number of patients battling the disease will “soon grow to pandemic proportions.”
The number of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s more than doubled between 1990 and 2015. While around 6.9 million people around the world are thought to currently have the disease, experts warn that an aging population is likely to cause this number to increase to over 14 million by 2040. It is also believed that Parkinson’s will soon overtake Alzheimer’s as the leading neurodegenerative disease.
“Pandemics are usually equated with infectious diseases like Zika, influenza, and HIV,” said Ray Dorsey, M.D., a neurologist with the Rochester Medical Center. “But neurological disorders are now the leading cause of disability in the world and the fastest growing is Parkinson’s disease.”
Parkinson’s is not generally thought of as a lifestyle disease, with the general explanation being that it is caused by unusually low dopamine levels, but that the reasons the disease develops are not clearly understood. It is obvious from the sharp increase in the number of cases in recent decades, however, that the modern lifestyle or environment must be contributing in some way. (Related: Depression linked with higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease – Research.)
This was confirmed by a study published in the journal Acta Neurologica Scandinavia in 2003, which screened 5,632 random people for Parkinson’s disease and investigated the links between the 113 people found to have the disease and certain lifestyle issues like smoking and exposure to pesticides. The study found that “age, male gender, and pesticide-use license were significantly related to PD [Parkinson’s disease].”
So, there is clear evidence that there are underlying causes fueling this Parkinson’s epidemic. However, instead of trying to find these causes, the researchers that conducted the University of Rochester Medical Center study are encouraging a totally different approach – one that would make Big Pharma very happy. (Related: Keep track of the latest developments at Medicine.news.)
The authors argue that PD patients should lobby pharmaceutical companies to come up with more and better treatments, just as patients with HIV did in previous decades.
“People with HIV infection simply demanded better treatments and successfully rallied for both awareness and new treatments, literally chaining themselves to the doors of pharmaceutical companies,” said Bastiaan Bloem, M.D., Ph.D., from the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
“Today, HIV has become a treatable, chronic disease,” he added. “This upcoming increase in the number of Parkinson patients is striking and frankly worrisome. We feel it is urgent that people with Parkinson’s go to the pharmaceutical industry and policymakers alike, demanding immediate action to fight this enormous threat.”
At Natural News we believe that prevention is always better than cure, and that fighting for Big Pharma to dole out more chemical treatments is not the solution.
While some risk factors for PD are out of our control – for example, males are 50 percent more likely to develop PD than females – there are a number of natural remedies that have been proven to reduce the risk of developing this debilitating illness.
Medical News Today reports on two of these:
Curcumin – an ingredient found in the spice turmeric, is apparently effective in preventing the clumping of a protein involved in Parkinson’s disease, according to scientists from Michigan State University.
Flavonoids – adult males who regularly eat foods rich in flavonoids appear to have a considerably lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, compared to others who do not, researchers in the U.S.A. and U.K. reported in the journal Neurology. Examples of foods include berries, apples, some vegetables, tea and red wine. In this study, the protective effects come from anthocyanins, a subclass of flavonoids.
So, there are at least three lifestyle changes we can make to help prevent the oncoming pandemic of Parkinson’s disease: Limit exposure to pesticides; add turmeric to your daily diet; and increase your intake of flavonoid-rich foods like apples and red wine.