Colombia candidate discloses Parkinson's diagnosis

BOGOTA (AP) — A Colombian presidential candidate and popular former mayor of Bogota revealed Friday that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus has been vying for second place in recent public opinion polls ahead of May 30 presidential election. A second-round runoff is likely between the top two candidates.

Mockus said he is in the earlier stages of the degenerative disease and it would not affect his ability to be president.

"The prediction is that this will not affect my mental activities," Mockus told La W radio. "I think it is absolutely fitting to tell the people about the diagnosis and about the prognosis — which is 12 years or more of normal life thanks to medication."

Former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos is the favorite in election polls to succeed President Alvaro Uribe, who is barred from seeking a third term.

Recent surveys place former Foreign Minister Noemi Sanin in second or third place.

About 1 million Americans have Parkinson's, and the National Parkinson Foundation estimates that 60,000 or so new cases are diagnosed every year.

Nerve cells in part of the brain die and stop producing dopamine, a chemical that affects body movement.

The illness has afflicted such high-profile figures as actor Michael J. Fox, Pope John Paul II and boxer Muhammad Ali.