Estrogen may alter Parkinson's disease in women
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Parkinson's disease is diagnosed about 2 years later in women than in men and this difference may be associated with the female hormone estrogen, according to results of a study conducted in the Netherlands.
Dr. Bastiaan R. Bloem, at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, and associates followed 156 men and 97 women who were treated at a clinic for movement disorders between 1988 and 2003. They analyzed data obtained in the first 10 years, after symptoms began and before Parkinson's medications were started.
Their findings appear in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry.
The average age when symptoms began was 53.4 years in men versus 51.3 years in women. Women were more likely than men to have tremors when symptoms started. However, gender seemed to have no bearing on how rapidly movement ability deteriorated, the report indicates.
Estrogen levels may play a role in how Parkinson's disease develops, the authors suggest. Life events that influence estrogen levels, such as the number of children a women has and her age at menopause, seem to influence the age at which the disease occurs.
However, they caution that estrogen levels may be a proxy for another factor -- such as iron deficiency -- that might be the real determinant of when Parkinson's disease develops.
In an editorial, Dr. David Burn of Newcastle General Hospital, UK, points out that in Asian populations, women appear to have a more aggressive disease course than men. He proposes that genetic factors or geographical differences may be determining factors in the occurrence and clinical course of Parkinson's disease.
SOURCE: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, August 2007.
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