Our Blog

Causes of Parkinson's disease

by Dana, November 19, 2018

The biggest risk factor for Parkinson’s disease is age.  The first signs of this degenerative motor condition are usually found in people over 60.  Whether young or old, if you’re worried about developing the disease, scientific studies show that Parkinson’s is caused by a unique interplay of genetic and environmental factors that vary from person to person.  However, there are common traits between cases that should prove of interest to youth and seniors looking to educate themselves about the particulars of this condition. Therefore, continuing with our series on this topic, the information below describes the causes of Parkinson’s disease.  

  • What is Parkinson’s Disease – disease causes.
  • Disorder of the central nervous system. Understand what happens but don’t know why.
    • The cells that produce dopamine die. Dopamine transmits signals that allow for coordination of movement.  This is why people who have Parkinson’s take L-Dopa.

15% of individuals have a first-degree relative with the disease, and 5%-15% of cases are caused by a genetic mutation passed from one generation to another.  Head injury and pesticide exposure have a higher risk of Parkinson’s.  A combination of genetics and environmental factors, but these vary from person to person.   There may be a number of people with Parkinson’s in the same family.  There is a link to pesticide exposure. 


  1. Scientific Study
    1. The strongest risk factors associated with later PD diagnosis are having a family history of PD or tremor, a history of constipation, and lack of smoking history
    2. Further positive significant associations were found for history of anxiety or depression, pesticide exposure, head injury, rural living, beta-blockers, farming occupation, and well-water drinking,
  2. Ada Parkinson’s
    1. Scientists estimate that less than 10% of cases of Parkinson’s disease are primarily due to genetic causes. The most common genetic effect that triggers Parkinson’s disease is mutation in a gene called LRRK2. The LRRK2 defect is particularly frequent in families of North African or Jewish descent.
  3. Michael J. Fox Foundation
    1. Research points to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
    2. The LRRK2 gene
      1. In fact, only about 10 percent of PD cases have been linked to a genetic cause. Mutations in the LRRK2 gene are the most common cause of PD in this relatively small group, representing one to two percent of total Parkinson's cases.
      2. However, for people of certain ethnic backgrounds -- Ashkenazi Jewish, North African Arab Berbers and Basque -- mutations in LRRK2 account for a much greater number of PD cases than in the general population.
    3. EPDA
      1. A combination of genetic and environmental factors may be responsible, but how these two factors interact varies from person to person.
      2. It is rare for Parkinson’s to be passed from parent to child.
      3. There may be a number of people in the same family with Parkinson’s
      4. Those with severe injury or pesticide exposure have a higher risk. Men have a higher risk than women.  But the single biggest risk factor is age.  Most people are over 60 when they develop the condition.
    4. The Nautilus Article
      1. Disease runs in the family in only 10% of cases
      2. Higher rate on farms or drink well water, likely because of exposure to pesticides
      3. You could have a genetic mutation, but it doesn’t lead to genetic destiny. Constant exposure to stress may be a factor, or early life stress and late life disease (concept of neuro endangerment).  Chronic inflammation could also contribute.