Meat Consumption and Meat Cooking Practices in Essential Tremor: A Population-Based Study in the Faroe Islands

Monica Ferrer, Eina H. Eliasen, Maria Skaalum Petersen, Wendy Jiang, Wei Zheng, Elan D. Louis

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Background: Elevated tissue levels of the tremor-producing neurotoxin, harmane, have been detected in patients with essential tremor (ET) in the USA and Spain. Recently, a study in the Faroe Islands similarly noted an elevation in blood harmane concentrations in probable and definite ET cases. The underlying mechanism is not understood. Possible mechanisms include increased dietary consumption (esp. through cooked meats), impaired metabolism, or increased endogenous production of harmane. To investigate this issue further, we conducted a population-based study in the Faroe Islands to examine meat consumption and meat cooking practices in ET cases and controls. Methods: 1,328 Faroese adults were screened for tremor and 27 ET cases were identified. Meat consumption and meat cooking practices were compared to 200 controls. Detailed data were collected via questionnaires regarding current meat consumption for 14 meat types and meat cooking doneness for 8 meat types. Data were also available on blood harmane concentrations. Results: Current meat consumption was similar in ET cases and controls in 12 out of 14 meat types, with no differences observed after a Bonferroni correction in any meat type; no difference was observed when stratified by gender. No difference was observed in meat doneness between ET cases and controls. Blood harmane concentrations were not correlated with dietary data. Discussion: This is the first population-based study of harmane-linked dietary factors in ET. The study suggests the observed difference in blood harmane in ET is not driven by dietary differences and is likely due to other mechanisms (e.g., impaired metabolism).
Original languageEnglish
Article number30
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalTremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2020


  • environmental epidemiology
  • population-based design
  • essential tremor
  • diet
  • neurotoxin
  • harmane
  • beta-carboline alkaloids
  • blood harmane
  • Parkinson's disease
  • high prevalence
  • epidemiology
  • norharman
  • dystonia
  • harmine
  • Faroe Islands


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