Progress and Prospects in Parkinson's Research/Causes/Toxins/Mercury
The Phrase "Mad as a Hatter" is a reference to Mad Hatter Disease which is a form of Parkinsonism that traditionally afflicted milliners, who were exposed to continual inhalation of Mercury vapour, used in felting when making hats.
Mercury is a chemical element (Symbol Hg) with an atomic number of 80.
It is used in lighting, in thermometers, as as an amalgam for filling teeth and in cosmetics such as mascara.
Ngim & Devasthasan  carried out an epidemiologucal study on 54 idiopathic PD patients in Singapore and established a statistical link between mercury levels in the body and the occurrence of PD.
Miller et al  gives a detailed description of a case of mercury exposure.
Bates et al  evaluated a cohort of 20,000 people to see whether they had incurred an increased disease risk (including PD) from mercury amalgam fillings. Their results state,” Results were generally reassuring, and provide only limited evidence of an association between amalgam and disease.”
Dantzig  set out to test the hypothesis that there might be a link between the onset of Parkinson’s Disease, Grover’s Disease and blood mercury levels is the body. Grover’s Disease manifests itself as itchy red bumps on the chest and back. He (she?) formed a cohort of 14 randomly selected PD patients an 14 matching controls.
Of the 14 patients with Parkinson's Disease, 13 had Grover's Disease and detectable blood mercury. None of the patients in the control group had a cutaneous eruption and only 2 of the 14 had detectable blood mercury. This extraordinary finding, which will set most PD patients into scratching their chests, appeared in a peer-reviewed journal and has not, so far, been corroborated elsewhere.
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Wikipedia entry on mercury laboratory uses of mercury
- Ngim, C.H. and Devasthasan, G. (1989)Neuroepidmiology 8 (3): 128-141 Epidemiologic study on the association between body mercury level and idiopathic Parkinson's disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2725805
- Miller K.. Ochudło, S.; Opala G. Smolicha, W and Siuda, J.(2003) Neuro. lNeurochir. Po. 37 Suppl 5:31-8. Parkinsonism in chronic occupational metallic mercury intoxication. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15098329
- Bates, M.N.; Fawcett, J.; Garrett, N.; Cutress, T. and Kjellstrom, (2004) T. Int. J. Epidemiol. 33(4):894-902. Health effects of dental amalgam exposure: a retrospective cohort study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15155698
- Dantzig, P.I. (2006) J. Occup. Environ. Med. 48(7):656. Parkinson's disease, macular degeneration and cutaneous signs of mercury toxicity. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16832218