Parkinson's Risk Reduced by Vitamin
A large-scale, long-term study of vitaminB6 showed that it may be effective inreducing the risk of Parkinson's disease(PD). Researchers in Amsterdam followed5289 men and women aged 55and older for nearly 10 years in an effortto determine whether a higher intake offolate and vitamins B6 and B12 wouldreduce the risk of PD, as all 3 are knownto reduce homocysteine levels. At thebeginning of the study, none of thepatients had PD. In the 10 years of followupstudy, however, 72 people developedthe disease. While no link could be madebetween levels of B12 or folate and PDrisk, researchers were able to determinethat the more B6 people consumed, thelower their PD risk. People in the topthird of B6 intake were 54% less likely todevelop PD than those people in the lowestthird. According to researchers, thisresult is significant only among smokers,suggesting that the vitamin does notlower PD risk by any effect on homocysteinelevels but rather by protecting braincells from free radicals. They point toother studies that suggest smokingreduces PD risk because of nicotine'sability to protect brain cells. Researchersdo not want to suggest that B12 andfolate are not protective, but rather furtherstudies are needed to examine theblood's nutrient levels. The study can befound in the July 2006 issue of Neurology.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.