A combination of some Parkinson's disease medications may produce a rare but potentially devastating side effect—addictive gambling behavior.

Researchers found nine pathological gamblers in a group of more than 1,000 people being treated for Parkinson's disease. These people said they hadn't had any gambling problems in the past.


Dr. Mark Stacy, lead author of the study, says he began this study because he had two Parkinson's patients report huge gambling losses soon after Stacy had changed the doses of their medications. Stacy is the medical director of the Movement Disorders Center at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, but was at the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Research Center in Phoenix at the time of the study.

He and his colleague reviewed the charts of 1,184 patients with Parkinson's disease, and found seven other cases of problem gambling.

In all of the cases, the gambling was severe enough to cause financial problems.

On average, the people who had gambling problems had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 11 years before the start of their addictive gambling behavior.

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