Cigarettes and coffee may reduce risk of Parkinson’s

So indicates research at Duke University (presumably, the fact that this fine, private institution is in the backyard of Tobacco Central is a coincidence).
Over 300 Parkinson’s disease patients and their relatives were questioned about their lifestyle habits, and it turned out that only half as many Parkinson’s sufferers as unafflicted relatives reported ever having smoked cigarettes.
Researchers don’t know the mechanism(s) underlying this association, but this is not the first time reseach has suggested that smoking and caffeine may help protect against the development of this progressive, fatal neurological disorder.
Considering that about one in every 200 or 300 Americans has the disease (making it far from rare, but more more so than smoking) and that the average age of onset is about 60, on balance it is probably not a good idea to start smoking with the intent of staving off Parkinson’s. I imagine that research to this point has accounted for comorbidities and such, but it doesn’t take that much of a reach toward absurdity to claim that methamphetamine use combined with high-speed motorcycle driving “protects” against Alzheimer’s, prostate cancer, and hairy nostrils.
If nicotine itself, rather than cigarettes per se, proves to be the protective agent, perhaps this could have real applications in terms of treating early Parkinson’s symtpoms. I don’t know how nicotinic neuroreceptors could impact transmission in dopaminergic neurons, but I never claimed to be wise; I just link stuff.

One thought on “Cigarettes and coffee may reduce risk of Parkinson’s”

  1. I haven’t seen the paper, but the way a study like this is usually done there is control for confounding, and the biggest confounder is age, so your implication that it is age relaed isn’t likely. Since the patients are also alive it isn’t competing risks, either. Both cigarettes and caffeine induce enzymes involved in detoxification of many chemicals so this might be an important clue about an environmental cause of Parkinson’s. The reported effect sounds like it is prtty strong. Since I write a lot of snarky posts myself, I know the impulse that can come over you when you see a story like this, but I’m just sayin’ . . .

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