James Sharer: Parkinson’s Disease and Smoking

Posted: September 27, 2014 in Education, Society

James Sharer was a research intern at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was attached to the University’s Smell and Taste Center. “As a research intern, I managed databases using statistical software including SYSTAT and SPSS,” James Sharer explained.

James Sharer is a biology major at Pennsylvania State University and is planning on a career in medicine. His time spent as a research intern was extremely valuable to the budding medical professional. “I am currently working on a research paper pertaining to the effect of smoking on Parkinson’s disease and its various symptoms,” he says.

There appears to be a definite link between Parkinson’s disease and cigarette smoking, as James Sharer is learning. It may be the only positive side to smoking, he says, although he is quick to add that no one should go out and start smoking as a way of fending off Parkinson’s disease.

A study published in 2010, says James Sharer, looked at the smoking history of more than three hundred thousand people, and found that here is indeed a relationship between smoking and reduced chances of getting the disease. And it appears that the longer someone has been a smoker, and not the number of cigarettes that they have smoked, is what makes the difference. The study concluded that people who had been smokers for more than forty years had a forty-six percent decrease in the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease.

If James Sharer and the paper he is working on could further the understanding of the link between smoking and a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, it would be a significant step forward and a significant achievement on the young Penn State biology major.


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