Is Parkinson's Disease a Genetic Disorder?
by Erik Steel
Parkinson's disease is idiopathic, meaning the overall cause remains unknown. However, people who have a family member who has Parkinson's disease are at a slightly increased risk for developing it.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Parkinson's disease occurs because of the death or loss of function of cells (neurons) in the brain that produce the chemical dopamine; this chemical is a neurotransmitter, which carries messages between brain cells.
Although the cause of Parkinson's has not yet been identified, the Mayo Clinic reports that contributing factor may be environmental or genetic in nature.
Risk factors in the development of Parkinson's disease include advancing age, sex (men are somewhat more likely to develop it and exposure to herbicides and pesticides; while having a relative with Parkinson's presents only a very slight risk, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Medline Plus reports that, when young people develop Parkinson's disease, the caused usually results from a form of the disease that runs in families.
Because no specific genetic factor has yet been identified in Parkinson's disease, it is not possible to do genetic testing to find out if an individual will be affected by Parkinson's.