Study: Professions linked to Lou Gehrig’s Disease and Parkinson’s

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Study: Professions linked to Lou Gehrig’s Disease and Parkinson’s

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In this photo a scientist in Florida, Matthew Disney, works on potential cures for neurodegenerative diseases like ALS. In an unrelated study, the CDC in July announced a link between certain professions and mortality from ALS and Parkinson’s disease. (Bruce Bennett/Palm Beach Post)

Scientists investigating why people die from Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s have found a new factor: high-paying or highly educated administrative jobs.

A study released Thursday afternoon by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from several states. It found that workers in certain occupations were more likely to die from the two neurodegenerative conditions. Those occupations included computer and mathematical fields, lawyers, architects, engineers, and teachers.

Previous research has often focused on victims’ exposure to poisons at work, such as in factories, farming or the military, the study said. But this study pulled back and looked at jobs in general, and did not find a link between those professions and Parkinson’s disease or Lou Gehrig’s (also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS).

Other factors were already recognized, such as being older, or being male. Pesticide exposure is a factor for Parkinson’s, and cigarette smoking is a factor for ALS.

The study encouraged further investigation of the finding. For one thing, it acknowledged that they couldn’t separate what effects might come from actually having those jobs, or from simply being of a higher socioecononic status.

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