UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Parkinson's disease : workplace risk factors Teschke, Kay; Marion, Stephen A.; Tsui, Joseph CK; Harris, M. Anne; Marino, Suhail; Rugbjerg, Kathrine; Shen, Hui


Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disorder, characterized by muscle tremors, stiffness, and slow movements. It affects between 34,000 and 60,000 Canadians. • The purpose of this study was to determine whether individuals in certain occupations or with exposures to respiratory infections, vibration, head injury, stress, pesticides, metals, or solvents have increased risks of Parkinson’s disease. • The study included 403 individuals with Parkinson’s disease and a comparison group of 405 controls without the disease. They were interviewed about their lifetime job history, medical history, and lifestyle habits. • The following were the main findings: − Smokers had decreased risks of the disease, as found in other studies, therefore we adjusted for smoking in our analyses. − Social science, law and library jobs and farming and horticulture jobs had increased risks of the disease, as found in other studies. Gas station jobs, welders, heavy equipment operators and carpenters also had increased risks. − There was an increased risk for influenza, and decreased risks for red measles and chicken pox or shingles. − Whole body vibration showed an interesting u-shaped pattern of risk: increased risk with no exposure, but also with increasing intensity of exposure. − Head injuries were associated with increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, including among people who were injured at work. − Stress on the job was not related to Parkinson’s disease. − There was some evidence of increased risk with exposure to pesticides, but it was not as convincing as the increased risk to farmers. − Exposures to most metals and solvents were not associated with increased risks.

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