Adelaide researchers have made the world’s first link between methamphetamine and Parkinson’s disease as the state government begins to highlight the health effects of pizza boxes.
- A new study shows a link between methamphetamine and Parkinson’s disease
- Almost half of users are unaware of the health consequences
- New ad campaign for pizza boxes will be targeted to users
University of South Australia Associate Professor Gabrielle Todd said her research was the first to “demonstrate a human-to-human connection” after it was discovered in animals decades ago.
She said methamphetamine use “as many as five times” can have “long-lasting effects on areas of the brain that control movement.”
“Methamphetamine is a drug that damages certain neurons in the brain, and those neurons are the same set of neurons that are damaged in Parkinson’s disease,” she said.
“Methamphetamine is actually so good at damaging these neurons that scientists have used the drug as an animal model for Parkinson’s disease.
“There is a very clear scientific link between the drug’s effects on these neurons, and there is a lot of other clinical and epidemiological evidence to support that link.”
Methamphetamine use also affects heart and kidney health and increases the risk of stroke, she said.
Health Minister Chris Picton said it was worrying that many meth users were unaware of the long-term effects of the drug on their health.
“Surveys show that 47 percent of people don’t know that eating ice has long-term health effects,” he said.
“Ice and meth use is a huge problem in the state, and we know the impact it has on communities and families.”
On Monday, the state government will launch a new campaign — “Don’t let meth take hold” — in light of evidence linking the drug to Parkinson’s disease.
For the first time in Australia, 20,000 ads warning of the long-term effects of the drug will be printed on pizza boxes, alongside traditional media ads.
“The best thing we can do is stop people using meth in the first place, and this ad campaign is a big part of that,” Mr Picton said.
A hospital research group will invest $100,000 in an advertising campaign as it works to diagnose more Parkinson’s patients.
Executive director Olivia Nassaris said there could be an increase in drug-related diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease.
“We don’t want an increase in drug-induced Parkinson’s, but it’s going to happen in the future and we’re going to have to deal with it,” she said.
“The most important thing about this campaign is that it comes from evidence and research.
“I think it’s absolutely devastating that people don’t know what they’re doing when they use methamphetamine and the long-term results.”