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Neurology. 1997 Mar;48(3):650-8.

Occupational exposures to metals as risk factors for Parkinson's disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.


In a population-based case-control study, we investigated the potential role of occupational exposure to iron, copper, manganese, mercury, zinc, and lead as risk factors for Parkinson's disease (PD). Concurrently recruited, nondemented patients (n = 144) with idiopathic PD and controls (n = 464) consisting of men and women > or =50 years of age, frequency-matched for age (within 5 years), race, and sex were enrolled. All had primary medical care at Henry Ford Health System in urban/suburban metropolitan Detroit. Subjects were given an extensive risk-factor questionnaire detailing actual worksite conditions of all jobs held for more than 6 months from age 18 onward. An industrial hygienist, blinded to the case-control status of subjects, rated occupational exposure to each of the metals of interest. When adjusted for sex, race, age, and smoking status, we found in those with more than 20 years' exposure a significantly increased association with PD for copper (OR = 2.49, 95% CI = 1.06, 5.89) and manganese (OR = 10.61, 95% CI = 1.06, 105.83). For more than 20 years' exposure to combinations of lead-copper (OR = 5.24, 95% CI = 1.59, 17.21), lead-iron (OR = 2.83, 95% CI = 1.07, 7.50), and iron-copper (OR = 3.69, 95% CI = 1.40, 9.71), there was a greater association with PD than with any of these metals alone. These findings suggest that chronic exposure to these metals is associated with PD, and that they may act alone or together over time to help produce the disease.

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