»   Environmental Risk Factors

  »   Other Risk Factors

  »   Potential Protective Factors







Scientists are working to better understand the broad range of environmental exposures linked to Parkinson's Disease.

Most experts agree that Parkinson's Disease is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors (chemicals, toxins, head trauma). The interactions between genes and environment can be quite complex. Some environmental exposures may lower the risk of Parkinson's Disease, while others may increase it.

Similarly, some people may have a genetic makeup that makes them more vulnerable to the effects of toxic substances than others. Researchers believe that a combination of factors may trigger biological changes that ultimately lead to Parkinson's.

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Environmental Risk Factors

Head Injury
Traumatic brain injuries can result in alteration in levels of consciousness. This has been associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson's Disease years after the original injury. However the mechanisms underlying this are unclear.

Areas of Residence
There are differences in the geographic distribution of Parkinson's Disease. These could be due to differences in environmental factors and genetic risk factors.

Occupation
Certain occupational categories or job titles have been associated with a higher incidence of Parkinson's Disease but the results have been inconsistent.

Pesticide and Herbicide Exposure
A strong link has been shown between Parkinson's Disease and exposure to pesticides and herbicides

Exposure to Metals
Occupational exposures to various metals have been suggested to be related to the development of Parkinson's Disease. But long term exposure to metals is not easily measured and the results of studies measuring Parkinson's Disease risk and specific metals have been inconsistent.

Solvents and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a solvent used in many industries and is the most common organic contaminant in ground water. Exposure to TCE was found to be associated with Parkinson's among workers who factory jobs resulted in long term exposure. PCBs have been found in relatively high concentrations in the brains of people who has Parkinson's. Occupational exposure to PCBs has been associated with greater risk of Parkinson's in women, but not in men.

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Other Risk Factors

Age is the largest risk factor for developing Parkinson's Disease. About one percent of people over the age of 60 have been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Gender is another cause as a result that results in men beings diagnosed more than women.

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Potential Protective Factors

Scientists have also found certain factors that may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's Disease. As with risk factors, not enough is known about these and they should not be tried without the counsel of a doctor.

Caffeine
Consumption of caffeine in coffee or tea may lower the risk of developing Parkinson's Disease.

Uric Acid or Urate
This chemical occurs naturally in blood. High levels, associated with diets high in certain foods, like meats, can cause gout and kidney stones. However, researchers have found that men with uric acid levels in the high end of the normal range have a lower incidence of Parkinson's Disease, though a similar effect was not observed in women.

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Several studies have shown that people who regularly take anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen have a lower risk of Parkinson's Disease.

Smoking
Many studies have associated cigarette smoking with a decreased risk of Parkinson's perhaps due to the protective factor of nicotine

Cholesterol Levels
Some studies have suggested that the use of statins , drugs used to lower cholesterol levels , are associated with reduced Parkinson's Disease risk

Vitamin D
It has been suggested that those with higher vitamin D levels were at lower risk of developing Parkinson's Disease, however additional studies are needed to support this

Exercise
Increase physical activity early in life has been associated with a lower risk of developing Parkinson's later in life

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