NZ Study To Investigate Causes Of Motor-Neurone Disease In The Workplace
By Tang Yew Chung | Health & Medicine
August 24, 2011
Researchers will launch New Zealand’s first-ever comprehensive survey to investigate whether occupational exposures may increase the risk of developing motor-neurone disease.
AsianScientist (Aug. 24, 2011) - Massey University’s Center for Public Health Research will carry out New Zealand’s first-ever comprehensive survey into possible causes of motor-neurone disease (MND) in the workplace.
Researchers at the center, led by Prof. Jeroen Douwes, have been awarded NZ$2.8 million by the Health Research Council to undertake the study.
MND is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes degeneration of motor neurons. This leads to muscle weakness, loss of mobility, and difficulties with speech, swallowing, and breathing. There is no cure or standard treatment for MND, and although palliative care has improved there is no treatment that will significantly alter its course.
The researchers will investigate whether occupational exposures, such as agricultural chemicals, electromagnetic fields, and solvents, may increase the risk of developing the disease.
The study will recruit and survey patients with MND and a control population consisting a comparable group of people without the symptoms
As there are only about 100 new cases of MND in New Zealand each year and 300 cases in the country at any one time, the researchers hope to link up with new international studies to obtain greater statistical power for their study.
The research funding will also used for a concurrent study investigating occupational exposure to methyl bromide which is highly toxic to humans.
Methyl bromide is used to fumigate soil, imported goods held in quarantine, and some export products. Professor Douwes says this puts workers, who undertake the fumigation and those that open fumigated sea containers, potentially at risk of neurological and breathing disorders.
Source: Massey University.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.