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Causes of Parkinson's

Genetic Factors

Many people affected by Parkinson’s disease (PD) want to know whether it can be passed down from one generation to the next. Directly inheriting the disease is quite rare. Only about 10 to 15 percent of all cases of Parkinson’s are thought to be genetic forms of the disease (monogenetic). The other 85 to 90 percent of cases are classified as sporadic (or occasional).

Recent studies have begun to demonstrate an important influence of genetic factors on the clinical aspects of the more common sporadic disease.

Pesticides and Parkinson’s: Time to Strengthen Epidemiology

Date: 
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Author: 
James Beck, PhD

In December, two reports in the New York Times called attention to the potential link between paraquat, a strong pesticide, and Parkinson’s disease (PD). The pesticide, which has been previously linked to Parkinson’s, is banned in some countries including those where it is manufactured, but not in the US.

What should people with Parkinson’s know about this news?

What's Hot in PD? More Evidence Links Parkinson’s Disease to Pesticide Exposure from Farming

Date: 
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Author: 
Dr. Michael S. Okun

A French group presented data at the 20th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders in Berlin Germany last month. Their results suggested a strong link between farming, pesticides and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Sofiane Kab and her colleagues demonstrated that living in rural French regions with more crops was a high risk for the later developing Parkinson’s. The authors noted that these are typically regions where vineyards are located.

What's Hot in PD?: Are Hepatitis C and Parkinson’s Disease Connected?

Date: 
Monday, February 1, 2016
Author: 
Dr. Michael S. Okun

There has long been speculation that viral infection may cause dopamine responsive Parkinson’s disease — at least in a subset of patients. The most famous case examples were depicted in the 1990 movie Awakenings starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro (based on Oliver Sacks’ 1973 memoir) where Parkinsonian patients (presumed to have been suffering from a viral flu or sleeping sickness) awaken when exposed to dopamine.

What's Hot in PD? Could Fungus and Mold be an Important Contributor to Parkinson’s Disease?

Date: 
Monday, December 2, 2013
Author: 
Dr. Michael S. Okun

There are many great mysteries and unanswered questions surrounding the potential causes of Parkinson’s disease. One of the most important and most studied is, “why are only a minority of cases caused by a single genetic abnormality?” One famous researcher from California coined the phrase, “the genes load the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger” (Judith Stern, UC Davis). Many Parkinson’s disease researchers have refocused their efforts to attempt to identify potential environmental triggers.

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