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Monday, 11 September, 2000, 23:38 GMT 00:38 UK
Jobs 'linked to Parkinson's'
Mechanics are one of the at risk groups
People who work with solvents such as petrol or rubber have a high risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a study.

They are also more likely to show symptoms of the disease early in life and risk developing a more severe form of the disease than those who do not work with solvents.

The study, carried out by researchers in Italy, suggests that the risks are greatest among people who work with hydrocarbon solvents.

These solvents are found in common petroleum-based products such as paints, glues and rubber.

As a result, the researchers suggest that painters, mechanics and printers are some of the most "at risk" jobs.

"Risky" jobs
People working with petroleum, rubber or plastic

Others at risk of developing the disease are people working with petroleum, rubber and plastic.

Doctors at the Parkinson Institute in Milan studied almost 1,000 patients with the disease.

It found that people who had worked with hydrocarbon solvents were likely to develop symptoms of Parkinson's three years before somebody who did not.

They also revealed that the severity of the disease was greatest among those who worked in "at risk" jobs.

The study found that most of those who had been exposed to hydrocarbon were mostly male and less educated than those who were not exposed.

The doctors said their findings showed a need for further research.

Dr Gianni Pezzoli, of the Parkinson Institute, said the study raised serious questions.

Further study call

"These findings raise serious questions about specific occupational risk.

"This study more than merits further investigation into job-related Parkinson's risk factors."

Parkinson's disease is generally regarded as a brain disorder.

It is a progressive disease which attacks the part of the brain which controls movement.

Drugs are currently used to treat the disease but their success is limited and the side-effects can be significant.

There is no cure and treatments only last a few years.

The symptoms are caused by the loss of cells in a certain part of the brain that produce dopamine - an important message-carrying chemical or neurotransmitter linked with movement.

But no one has been able to find out why those cells get destroyed in the first place.

Around 120,000 people in the UK have Parkinson's disease.

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05 Sep 00 | Health
Parkinson's disease breakthrough
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