This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Female meth users may have a higher chance of developing Parkinson's disease than male users, new research from the University of Utah suggests.
The team of researchers considered 40,000 records in the Utah Population Database, a collection of medical and other data managed by the U.'s Huntsman Cancer Institute. They compared hospital and clinic visits from 1996-2011 among 5,000 meth users to those of people who reported doing cocaine, and still others who steered clear of drugs and alcohol altogether.
Starting in their 50s or later, the meth group developed elevated levels of Parkinson's. The disease often causes patients' hands to shake or makes it difficult for them to walk or control small movements.
"We feel comfortable that it's just the meth causing the risk for Parkison's, and not other drugs or a combination of other drugs," senior author Glen Hanson said in a prepared statement.
Unlike meth, cocaine use didn't raise the chances of getting Parkinson's. Researchers say they believe the finding is accurate because they considered cocaine users who reported no history of meth use.
The finding echoes a prior study out of California which found that meth users are three times more likely to develop Parkinson's.
But the new research is notable because it uses both inpatient and outpatient data, said research assistant Karen Curtin, who is also the associate director of the Utah Population Database.
"We felt that we could get a better, more comprehensive look" from the Utah database, Curtin said.
The California study only considered inpatient visits and break down the rates by gender.
The U. study's proposition that women who have abused meth are more likely to get the disease than men could have to do with hormones, or the fact that women get addicted at lower doses. More research is needed to tell whether there's a significant link, but that will take more digging into the database.