What Are the Odds of Developing Parkinson’s Disease?

Art by Sherri Woodbridge
Copyright 2012

I have been asked this question over and over and while I am no Professor Parkinson, I did do some research this is what I came up with

Lighter colored hair.  Yes, that’s right.  A person with black hair has the best chance of escaping a diagnosis of PD than that of a person with red or blonde hair, red being the greatest chance.  I don’t think dyed hair counts.

Family history.  Hereditary factors/genetics can play a part.  If you have a close relative who has Parkinson’s disease (such as a parent/sibling) your chances increase.

Men tend to be more at risk than women for unknown reasons. However, this fact can also depend on what country you live in.

If you are over the age of sixty, the likelihood of developing PD is greater. However, there are a select few rare known cases of PD starting at the age of two.

The Amish community seems to have the highest rate of PD among any other communities. It is thought that the culprit may be all the pesticides used in their farming.  Which leads to… Exposure to toxins playing a large part in some PD cases as well as those individuals who relied on well water for drinking and cooking.  This is due to the chemicals/pesticides found in the water. It is said that Nebraska has the highest rate of PD in the United States, most likely due to the pesticides used in their farming, as well.

Trauma to the head may play a role as damage is done to the dopamine that producing neurons in the brain.  If you were one to bang your head against the wall in frustration, well… you shouldn’t have.

Manganese, a known cause of Parkinson’s if the concentrations are high enough, is found in a town in Italy.  The concentrations there are high enough and approximately 410 out of 100,000 people have been diagnosed with PD.

Ethnicity has been studied, showing Caucasians have greater odds over African Americans.

Illicit drugs use may be a factor as the drugs have a bulls-eye target for the dopamine producing neurons inside the brain.

Studies have shown that PD is much more prevalent amongst welders, significantly higher amongst physicians, dentists, teachers, lawyers, scientists, computer programmers (young onset PD diagnosis greater for this group), clerical occupations, agricultural workers, hunting and forestry occupations were also positively associated with Parkinson’s Disease. Those people involved in manufacturing and transportation were less likely to get Parkinson’s Disease.

So… what does this all mean?  Here it is:

If you are a welder, physician, dentist, teacher, lawyer, scientist, computer programmer, person involved in clerical work, agricultural worker, hunting and forestry vocation person, and…  have a family history of PD, are male, are over 60, Amish and are growing manganese plants as a hobby; if you are Caucasian, take illicit drugs, banged your head against a wall, live in Nebraska, have red hair and a family history of PD, then chances are – you MIGHT get PD.  Then again, it depends on which country you live in, too.

Another interesting tidbit?  Those involved in the manufacturing and transportation fields were less likely to get PD.  Caffeine and smoking are said to help prevent PD.

I wouldn’t quit my welding job to pilot a jet, leave the Amish community, or move from Nebraska and take up smoking.  There are reasons, yes, why people get PD, even if we haven’t really pinpointed the specific culprit yet.  However, ultimately, because of God’s sovereignty, things are going to play out as He sees fit, whether we have black hair or polka dot hair, work in the forest or teach geometry, are male or female, Amish or Mennonite, prefer chocolate over strawberry ice cream.  And, if He sees fit to give us this disease, well then, He’s got to have a pretty good reason that I may never know or understand.  So, if you fit this category – just a normal person with Parkinson’s disease – don’t give up.  We’re all in this together and it doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, what you do or if you prefer strawberry or chocoate – we will get through.  However, might I say?  Why the chocolate, of course. Always the chocolate.

Journeying with you ~ Sherri

Sometimes We Win The Day’s Battle and That’s All There Is To It

Photo by Unknown

A person with Parkinson’s was heard saying, “Despite our willingness to face adversity (do we have a choice?), sometimes we win the day’s battle and sometimes not.”

I tend to be a bit more ‘the glass is half-full’ type of person. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘It could always be worse,” because the truth is, it could always be worse.

It frustrates me to hear people complain about the rain in the winter when all they did was complain about the heat and the fires and the droughts of summer. It irritates me to listen to some who gripe about how they don’t have this or they don’t have that when they are bringing home a six figure income or better but choose to live well beyond their means.

We all have types of adversity we must face. Some adversity is just a part of life as we know it. Some is due to poor choices. Some we have no choice – for whatever reason, we are just chosen. Some adversity is financial, some physical, some spiritually, mental, emotional. Some adversity lasts what seems like forever, some is temporary. Some seems unfair and some just plain isn’t ‘fair’.

Given all that, is it true that sometimes we win the day’s battle with adversity – whatever that adversity may be? According the the quote at the beginning of this article, yes and no.

It is probably safe to say, mind set has a lot to do with it. A person who struggles with depression is going to most likely say they won’t win the battle with adversity. Or a person sitting on death row. Or the woman who has lost her only child. Or the husband whose wife just left him for his best friend. Or the list could, and does, go on and on and on. But the truth is, if you make it one more day beyond the last, no matter what you face, you have faced it victoriously. You have stamped out the darkness one more day and chosen to live, no matter how dismal your life may seem today. It may not seem as if it’s much brighter, but look what you did: you made it through one more day. And if you can do that, you can make it through one more day and another and another.

Life can be and is so very hard. I do not look through it with rose colored glasses, though at times I would like to. But I often think of those who found life so full of adversity that they felt they simply could not make it through another day and chose not to – what if they had given life just one more day? What if they had reached out to a friend? What if they had sought help? What if… The only ones who can answer those questions are those who turn the page of their life-story and say yes to another day, no matter how hard it may seem.

I understand the feeling that comes from the quote that led to this article but I feel that if we can, we should leave no room for adding discouragement to our example of living, if we can at all help it.

Every day can be a victory or one of defeat. It’s our choice. I choose to make it through one more day, one day at a time, victoriously.