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Am J Epidemiol. 2003 Jan 15;157(2):149-57.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and parkinsonism-dementia complex of Guam: changing incidence rates during the past 60 years.

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  • 1Department of Neurosciences, University of California San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla 92093-0624, USA. drccplato@mindspring.com


In the 1950s, the incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lytico) and parkinsonism-dementia complex (PDC, or Bodig) on the island of Guam was much higher than anywhere else in the world. From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, the incidence of both disorders has decreased. The objective of the present study was to ascertain whether the decreasing incidence continued until the end of the century (1999). The average annual incidence of ALS and PDC was calculated for each 5-year period from 1940 to 1999, utilizing registration records of all ALS and PDC cases on Guam during that period. The results of this study confirmed that the incidence of ALS declined steadily during the past 40 years. The incidence of PDC also declined until the late 1980s but, unlike ALS, showed a slight increase from 1980 to 1999. The rapid decrease in incidence is not likely to be due to genetic factors. Instead, it is most likely to be the results of radical socioeconomic, ethnographic, and ecologic changes brought about by the rapid westernization of Guam.

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