Is Parkinson’s and parkinsonism on the increase?

An interesting study was published in JAMA a couple of weeks ago. The authors, from Mayo Rochester, state: “Our study suggests that the incidence of parkinsonism and PD [Parkinson’s Disease] may have increased between 1976 and 2005, particularly in men 70 years and older. These trends may be associated with the dramatic changes in smoking behavior that took place in the second half of the 20th century or with other lifestyle or environmental changes. However, the trends could be spurious and need to be confirmed in other populations.”

If the increase in parkinsonism and PD were due to improved diagnosis, then we would likely see this effect in both men and women. But the researchers found an increased incidence in men especially.

There is research (albeit controversial), both in PD and in PSP (progressive supranuclear palsy), that smoking may suppress symptoms. Indeed, my father’s PSP symptoms began *after* he quit smoking. Another local support group member had the same experience. The rate of smoking has decreased more rapidly in men than women in the US.

Alzforum compares the rise of incidence in parkinsonism and PD with the opposite findings for dementia: “This finding is in stark contrast to a measurable decrease in Alzheimer’s disease in Europe and the United States, which researchers attribute to healthier lifestyles of late.”

Copied below is the link to the short Alzforum summary of the JAMA research paper and related papers, and the full Alzforum summary. And copied below is the link to the JAMA paper abstract.


A Rising Tide of Parkinson’s?
July, 8 2016

Also see:

JAMA Neurology. 2016 Jun 20.
Time Trends in the Incidence of Parkinson Disease
Savica R, Grossardt BR, Bower JH, Ahlskog JE, Rocca WA.
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.