Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 15, 2012 05:33 PM
The tobacco industry has been looking for some kind of silver lining somewhere for the past few years as cities and countries across the globe have continued to attempt to make it more difficult and more expensive for the world population to sit back and light a few up. From banning smoking in restaurants to replacing brand names on packaging with horrendous images of what could happen to you if you (gasp) inhale, governments of all shapes and sizes have used many strategies to make life more difficult for Big Tobacco.
Now the tobacco industry finally has something it can feel good about. Its product actually has something positive to share. New research from the University of Louisville has it that tobacco “may hold the key to preventing Parkinson’s disease,” according to the Indianapolis Star.
The key component, the paper reports, is something called tobacco mosaic virus, or TMV, which attacks the plants and “may be protective against Parkinson’s,” said Dr. Robert Friedland, a clinical and research neurologist at U of L, the Star reports. The hope is that this discovery will lead to a vaccine against Parkinson’s.
The study was initiated after a number of studies showed that smokers have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s. Indeed, Friedland warned that people shouldn’t use this new research as an excuse to smoke, since tobacco use has been tied to heart disease and lung cancer, which are much bigger killers annually than Parkinson’s.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation, the largest private funder of Parkinson's Disease research in the world, also cautioned consumers not to raise their hopes about tobacco as a treatment.
“The Michael J. Fox Foundation has funded multiple studies focused on nicotine as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease – as both an anti-dyskinetic and as a potentially disease-modifying therapy,” Holly Barkhymer, VP of Marketing and Communications at the Foundation, told brandchannel. “With that said, it’s important for people to understand that the connection between tobacco and PD is not well understood, and as of today, the known health risks of tobacco use far outweigh any potential therapeutic benefits in PD.”
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