A new study finds people who use methamphetamine are three times more likely than those who do not use illicit drugs to develop Parkinson's disease.
Methamphetamine use is associated with a number of serious health issues including severe dental problems, convulsions, changes in brain structure, strokes, heart attack and death.
The new study, by researchers at the University of Utah and Intermountain Healthcare, found women who use meth may be almost five times as likely to develop Parkinson's compared with women who do not use drugs, according to MedicalXpress.
"Typically, fewer females use meth than males do," study senior author Glen R. Hanson, D.D.S., Ph.D., noted in a press release. "Even though women are less likely to use it, there appears to be a gender bias toward women in the association between meth use and Parkinson's."
The researchers reviewed more than 40,000 records in the Utah Population Database, which provides genealogical, medical and government-provided information on Utah families. They looked at medical records of almost 5,000 people whose health records indicated they had used meth, more than 1,800 people who had used cocaine, and more than 34,000 people whose health records showed no illicit drug use.
The study found people who used cocaine were not at increased risk for Parkinson's. "We feel comfortable that it's just the meth causing the risk for Parkinson's, and not other drugs or a combination of meth and other drugs," Hanson said in a news release.
The study is published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
A study published in 2011 also found a link between methamphetamine and the risk of Parkinson's. That study did not report risks based on gender, and only included records of hospital inpatients, the article notes. The new study used both inpatient and outpatient records, which captured a wider segment of the population, the researchers said.