Could consuming iron-rich foods such as red meat, eggs, and certain fruits and vegetables lower a personís risk of developing Parkinsonís disease (PD)?
Itís possible, says a new study from researchers at The European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano in Italy, which found that people with higher levels of iron in the blood might be at a decreased risk of developing PD.
According to Science Codex, the researchers performed a meta-analysis of past studies in order to home in on how blood iron levels affect Parkinsonís risk in populations with similar genetic make-ups. The study found that increased iron levels in the blood correspond with a three percent decrease in PD risk.†
Previous research had shown a similar association, say the study authors, but further, more specifically designed, studies would be needed to determine if iron could have a protective effect against PD. The study did not address methods for increasing levels of iron in the blood, nor was it equipped to make recommendations about how doing so might provide potential therapies moving forward.†
Itís possible that down the road, MJFFís landmark biomarker study the Parkinsonís Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), could help to provide further answers to this endóPPMI is equipped to do just the kind of laboratory analysis of blood and other fluids that is needed to better define possible causal relationships like the one highlighted in this study.†
ďPPMI is designed to address the kinds of questions these types of large scale meta-analyses present to scientists,Ē says MJFF Vice President of Research Programs Mark Frasier, PhD. ďAlready in PPMI we are learning a lot about how levels of proteins in various bodily fluids differ in people with PD.† And certainly, moving forward, I could envision PPMI studying iron levels in the 600 subjects who have already donated their blood, toward determining its role in PD risk, but also, as a tool for tracking the progression of the disease.Ē
This past week, Frasier discussed some of these initial findings from PPMI with MJFF Contributing Editor Dave Iverson, speaking specifically about how various levels of the proteins alpha-synuclein, amyloid-beta, and tau seem to differ in the cerebrospinal fluid of people with PD. We encourage you to check out the podcast to learn more.†