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June 1993

The Nonenvironmental Basis for Rising Mortality From Parkinson's Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Neurology, Medicine, and Community Medicine, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown.

Arch Neurol. 1993;50(6):653-656. doi:10.1001/archneur.1993.00540060083023

Parkinson's disease is one of the more prevalent neuro-degenerative disorders. Over the past two decades, mortality attributed to Parkinson's disease in industrialized nations has risen significantly (Fig 1).1,2 This recent increase in mortality has occurred on a background of overall Parkinson's disease mortality rates that had been stable for decades3-5 and following the introduction of levodopa therapy, a treatment that has significantly enhanced survival.6 This evolving mortality pattern in Parkinson's disease has been attributed to better case ascertainment and environmental toxins that may have assumed an increased role in the etiopathogenesis of Parkinson's disease.1,2 The purpose of this communication is to demonstrate a theoretical model of human aging and mortality that is remarkably consistent with available Parkinson's disease mortality data. This model suggests that neither environmental influences nor changing diagnostic practices are responsible for the rise in overall Parkinson's disease mortality.

BACKGROUND  In 1825, Gompertz7

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