News Briefs: Estrogen may prevent Parkinson’s disease

According to a recently released study conducted by the Mayo Clinic and published in the September issue of Movement Disorders, women who have undergone hysterectomies are three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who have not had the surgical procedure. Women who receive estrogen replacement treatment following menopause are 50% less likely to develop the disease than those not receiving estrogen replacement are.

These findings, researchers say, indicate that an early loss of estrogen may increase a patient’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a progressive condition that causes impaired movement and tremors. The study examined the medical records of 72 women who developed Parkinson’s disease between 1976 and 1995. The study examined the link between the development of Parkinson’s and menopause, be it surgical or natural, age at menopause and the use of postmenopausal estrogen replacement treatment. Researchers also found a higher incidence of Parkinson’s in men than women — men are one and half times more likely to develop the disease — indicating again the role that estrogen may play in the prevention of the disease. Researchers cautioned, however, that the study’s findings should not in any way influence a woman’s decision to have a hysterectomy if that is the recommendation of her physician and that the chances of developing Parkinson’s, remains small regardless of whether a patient has a hysterectomy.

Approximately 1 million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s.