Careers Linked to Higher Degenerative Brain Disease Risk

Posted on March 29, 2006

MSNBC.com reports on a study from last year that links different jobs to different types of degenerative brain diseases. People working in specific fields were found to be more likely to develop these brain diseases, like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, possibly because of greater exposure to chemicals or bio hazards.
In their analysis, Park and his colleagues found that the bank tellers, clergy, aircraft mechanics and hairdressers had highest odds of dying from Alzheimer's disease. For Parkinson's disease, the highest risks were among biological scientists, teachers, clergy members and other religious workers.

The risk of death from presenile dementia - a form of dementia that arises before the age of 65 - was greatest among dentists, graders and sorters in industries other than agriculture and, again, clergy.

Veterinarians, hairdressers and graders and sorters had the highest risks of dying from motor neuron disease, the most common form of which is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease - an invariably fatal degeneration of the central nervous system that causes muscle wasting and paralysis.

The findings, based on death records from 22 states for the years 1992 to 1998, are published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
The study looked at more than 2.6 million U.S. death records. Some of the deaths suggest a more obvious environmental link -- such as hairdressers and a possible "role for hair dyes, solvents or other chemicals used in salons." But the higher percentage of degenerative brain disease deaths found in bank tellers or clergy members is much less obvious.