Nicotine Patch Fails to Help Parkinson's Patients
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Although some studies have shown that smokers are significantly less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than nonsmokers, researchers in Germany have found that the nicotine patch does not appear to be effective as an add-on
More than half a million Americans suffer from Parkinson's disease, a movement disorder marked by debilitating tremors. The exact cause remains a mystery, but the disease leads to the loss of the brain chemical dopamine, which helps regulate movement.
According to the report in the September issue of the journal Neurology, Dr. A. Vieregge of the University Hospital of Lubeck in Germany and colleagues studied 32 nonsmoking patients who were being treated for Parkinson's disease.
The patients underwent various motor skill tests at the beginning of the study period. Then, half the patients received the nicotine patch and the other half received ``placebo'' patches that contained no nicotine. All of the patients continued to take their anti-Parkinson's medication throughout the entire study period.
Patients in the nicotine group started out with patches that contained 17.5 milligrams (mg) of nicotine and after one week had the dosage increased to 35 mg. Patches were worn for a total of 3 weeks and all participants were evaluated for up to 3 weeks after they stopped wearing the patches.
``No significant drug effects between both groups were observed in any of the scores and quantitative tests,'' the investigators found.
``With the dosage and the period of treatment chosen...nicotine patches are not effective as an add-on treatment for symptoms of Parkinson's disease,'' Vieregge and colleagues conclude.