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Neuroepidemiology. 1989;8(3):128-41.

Epidemiologic study on the association between body burden mercury level and idiopathic Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Community, Occupational and Family Medicine, National University of Singapore.


A case-control study was conducted among the multiethnic population of Singapore to test the hypothesis that a high level of body burden mercury is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease (PD). Selected factors investigated that could contribute to the body burden of mercury included dietary fish intake, ethnic over-the-counter medications, occupational exposures and possession of dental amalgam fillings. Detailed interviews were completed in 54 cases of idiopathic PD and 95 hospital-based controls, matched for age, sex and ethnicity, between July 1985 and July 1987. After adjusting for potential confounding factors, including dietary fish intake, medications, smoking and alcohol consumption, there was clear monotonic dose-response association between PD and blood mercury levels. The odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the approximate subject tertiles based upon blood mercury levels were 8.5 (CI = 2.2-33.2) and 9.4 (CI = 2.5-35.9), relative to the tertile with lowest blood mercury levels (less than 5.8 ng Hg/ml). Similar associations were revealed using scalp hair and urinary mercury levels. However, only the comparisons between the highest and lowest tertiles were statistically different from unity (p less than 0.05). When the body burden mercury indicators were mutually adjusted in addition to the four confounding factors, blood and urinary mercury levels showed ORs of 21.00 and 18.65, respectively. These ORs were statistically different from unity (p less than 0.05, 2-sided test). After adjustment, scalp hair mercury was shown to be a poor predictor of PD risk.

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