Bruce Ballard is a member of the board of Ping Pong Parkinson and writes a blog under the title “Parking Suns” (Parkingsuns.com). He has generously permitted us to reprint some of his recent posts. The first deals with metabolic syndrome, a noteworthy subject given the expansion of the average American girth in recent years.
Aug 25, 2018
A five-year study of the entire South Korean adult population over the age of 40 found strong correlations between “metabolic syndrome” and Parkinson’s disease.
What’s “metabolic syndrome” (MetS)? It consists of one or more of the following:
high blood pressure
high glucose readings
Metabolic syndrome usually occurs with people who are obese and/or lead a sedentary lifestyle.
A team of Korean researchers found that if you have any one of the five conditions listed above, you increase your chances of getting PD. The more of these conditions you have, the higher your risk. Age is a contributing factor, too: The older you are with metabolic syndrome, the greater the risk that you’ll get PD.
The researchers used data from South Korea’s National Health Insurance Service, which tracks and provides health care for the entire country. They excluded anyone who had already been diagnosed with PD, and ended up following for five years the health reports for 17,163,560 Koreans over the age of 40.
The two major findings (quoted directly from the published article):
Our analysis indicated that individuals with MetS had a 24% higher risk of incident PD than individuals without MetS, and each MetS component was positively associated with PD risk.
Incidence and risk of PD increased gradually with the number of MetS components individuals had.
Just how bad was this? To wit:
Individuals with 3 MetS components were at 31% higher risk of PD, and those with all 5 components were at 66% higher risk, compared to those without any components.
What do the results suggest?
Optimal control of MetS and its components may reduce the risk of incident PD, and this possibility warrants further investigation.
They add the caveat that their research findings apply only to Koreans in Korea, not necessarily to other people elsewhere.
What does this mean for me? As I seem to say in countless Parking Suns posts, I need to exercise even more than usual. I already take medicine to lower my blood pressure and to keep my cholesterol in check. Now I’ll also listen more carefully when my doctor talks about triglycerides and glucose readings.
Also, this makes me realize that South Korea is a different place from when I lived there as a Peace Corps Volunteer (1975-1978). At that time, South Korea was still pulling itself out of the ravages of the Korean War. There were almost no private cars: everyone walked, rode buses, or biked. When I strolled the busy streets of Seoul, my head floated above the crowd of pedestrians; I was 5′ 10″ and everybody was way shorter than that. Sometimes when I rode public buses, I couldn’t stand straight because my head hit the ceiling.
And almost everyone was thin. Most of the meals I ate consisted of pickled vegetables, other kinds of vegetables, tofu, eggs and fish. There weren’t any fast food restaurants, and most people ate meat only on special occasions.
Now it’s an entirely different scenario. It seems almost everyone has a car. Young adults are often taller than me. Diet has changed so much that the supermarkets are filled with all sorts of fattening foods that people are crazy about. McDonald’s exists, as do ice cream parlors. And young people play computer games instead of running around outdoors. As the authors of this study note,
MetS is prevalent among patients with obesity and/or a sedentary lifestyle. MetS prevalence has been continually increasing in recent decades, globally and in the Republic of Korea (South Korea), due to the obesity epidemic.
So enough with the blogging. Let’s hit the “publish” button and head for the gym!