Monday, February 21, 2011

Amphetamine Use Increases Parkinson's Disease Risk 60% - Impact on ADHD Treatment Not Mentioned

This is a disturbing finding - those who used the drugs were 60 percent more likely to develop Parkinson's than those who didn't take the drugs. They looked at people who took amphetamines (benzedrine and dexedrine) by prescription back in the 1960s-1970s, when it they were commonly prescribed for weight loss.

But what does this say for the millions of American kids (and adults) taking amphetamines now for ADHD? Are they all screwed? Most people on these drugs, which are variations of amphetamine salts (adderall, ritalin), are taking between 10-30 mg a day, or sometimes twice a day. Are we going to end up with an epidemic of Parkinson's Disease when all of these people hit late adulthood?

Using Amphetamines May Increase Risk of Parkinson's Disease, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (Feb. 20, 2011) — New research shows people who have used amphetamines such as benzedrine and dexedrine appear to be at an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a study released February 22 that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011.

Benzedrine and Dexedrine are amphetamines often prescribed to increase wakefulness and focus for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy, a disorder that can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden attacks of sleep. They are also used to treat traumatic brain injuries.

The study involved 66,348 people in northern California who had participated in the Multiphasic Health Checkup Cohort Exam between 1964 and 1973 and were evaluated again in 1995. The average age of the participants at the start of the study was 36 years old. Of the participants, 1,154 people had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease by the end of the study.

Exposure to amphetamines was determined by two questions: one on the use of drugs for weight loss and a second question on whether people often used Benzedrine or Dexedrine. Amphetamines were among the drugs commonly used for weight loss when this information was collected.

According to the study, those people who reported using Benzedrine or Dexedrine were nearly 60 percent more likely to develop Parkinson's than those people who didn't take the drugs. There was no increased risk found for those people who used drugs for weight loss.

"If further studies confirm these findings, the potential risk of developing Parkinson's disease from these types of amphetamines would need to be considered by doctors before prescribing these drugs as well as be incorporated into amphetamine abuse programs, including illicit use," said study author Stephen K. Van Den Eeden, PhD, with the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, Calif.

Van Den Eeden explained that amphetamines affect the release and uptake of dopamine, the key neurotransmitter involved in Parkinson's disease. He explained that more research needs to be completed to confirm the association and learn more about possible mechanisms.

The study was supported by Kaiser Permanente Northern California.


American Academy of Neurology (2011, February 20). Using amphetamines may increase risk of Parkinson's disease, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 20, 2011, from­ /releases/2011/02/110220193013.htm

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