Amped Up to Be Let Down

Amphetamines shown to increase Parkinson's disease risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) People who have used amphetamines such as benzedrine and dexedrine appear to be at increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a new study.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, Calif., have found that of the 66,348 people who participated in the Multiphasic Health Checkup Cohort Exam between 1964 and 1973, a total of 1,154 went on to develop Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by tremor and impaired coordination.

Amphetamines such as benzedrine and dexedrine were commonly prescribed for weight loss in the 1960s and 1970s. Today they are most often prescribed to keep individuals with narcolepsy alert and wakeful, and can also be used to treat traumatic brain injury.

People who reported using benzedrine and dexedrine were 60 percent more likely to develop Parkinson's than those who did not take the drugs, according to the study.

Stephen K. Van Den Eeden, PhD, with the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente said if further studies indicate an increased risk of Parkinson's among amphetamine users, this risk would need to be considered by physicians before prescribing these drugs.

Amphetamines affect the release and uptake of dopamine, the key neurotranmitter involved in Parkinson's disease, which afflicts more than one-million Americans.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 22, 2011
Last Updated:
February 22, 2011