Understanding Parkinson's

Causes

Etiology (Cause of Disease)

The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, although research points to a combination of genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to onset. Current research links low or falling levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, with Parkinson’s. Dopamine is essential for many brain functions, including voluntary movement, mental health and behavior.

What is important to convey to all people with Parkinson’s is that several symptoms can be controlled with a range of medical therapies including Parkinson’s specific medication, many of which target dopamine. PRO can also help connect the patient and his/her family with programs and resources to support maintaining a rich and meaningful life.

There is no way to know what triggers the onset of Parkinson’s for any one individual. It’s important to keep in mind that while researchers strive to identify a cure for the disease, there is hope to live well and continue the activities that bring you fulfillment and happiness.

Key take-aways about the etiology of Parkinson’s:

  • Parkinson's disease is primarily idiopathic (cause unknown).
  • There can be genetic factors at play, often seen in early-onset PD (also called young-onset).
  • There can be environmental factors, or a combination of both genetic/environmental.
  • Research is ongoing.

Genetics

Studies show that some cases of Parkinson’s disease are caused by genetic mutations. Even so, hereditary causes of this disease are rare. Only 15 percent of those who have Parkinson’s disease have a family history of it. For the rest, the cause of Parkinson’s is usually unknown.

It’s rare for Parkinson’s disease to be passed down from parent to child. Most cases of Parkinson’s aren’t hereditary. However, people who are diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease are more likely to have inherited the disease. Having a family history of Parkinson’s may increase your risk of diagnosis. Having a first-degree family member with Parkinson’s raises the risk to 3 percent. This means that having a parent or sibling with Parkinson’s slightly increases the risk.

Environment

While the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, many researchers believe it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The interactions between genes and the environment can be quite complex and are not easily understood. Environmental factors such as agricultural pesticides, exposure to industrial chemicals and tainted well water while inconclusive, have all been associated with higher incidents of Parkinson’s disease.

Prevention

Scientists are actively working to understand what role diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyle could play in slowing the progression of the disease.

Why Me?

For any individual it is impossible to know what may have contributed to your diagnosis. It is natural to have questions about your situation or concerns for future generations. While we cannot definitively unravel that for you, PRO can help you turn to the future, make a plan to improve your daily quality of life, advocate for the best medical care, and help you build a vast network of support.

 

Have a question?

stay current with updates in your mailbox

Parkinson’s Resources publishes a quarterly print newsletter, The Parkinson’s Perspective, and also provides region specific program updates monthly. Contact us with your preferred mail and email addresses to sign up. We don’t rent, sell or share our mailing lists.

Have a question?

Stay current with updates in your mailbox

Parkinson’s Resources publishes a quarterly print newsletter, The Parkinson’s Perspective, and also provides region specific program updates monthly. Contact us with your preferred mail and email addresses to sign up. We don’t rent, sell or share our mailing lists.