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Does Obesity Increase The Risk Of Parkinson’s Disease?

Several years ago, one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Neil Diamond stopped touring in concerts due to his development of Parkinson’s Disease (PD).  Years ago, the movie “Back To Future”’s star, Michael J. Fox also needed to step away from acting due to PD.  This illness is seen more frequently in people over the age of 60 and occurs more commonly in males.  

  • Tremors
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Slow movement
  • Change in posture
  • Constipation
  • “Masked” face
  • Loss of smell
  • Small handwriting

In Parkinson’s disease, certain nerve cells ( called “neurons”) in the brain gradually break down or die. Many of the symptoms are due to a loss of neurons that produce a chemical messenger (“neurotransmitter”) in your brain called dopamine. When dopamine levels decrease, it causes abnormal brain activity, leading to impaired movement and other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

PD appears to have genetic and environmental components.  There is some evidence that exposure to certain toxins and herbicides may increase the chances of developing PD.

Focusing on weight control:  Does obesity increase the risk of developing PD? 

There are a number of studies that do link BMI to a higher chance of developing PD whereas other studies refute this correlation.  The one major metanalysis study (one that combines information from all studies on a particular subject) I saw points toward a slight correlation of poor weight control with the development of PD.

If you develop a new tremor, dizziness sensation and/or balance difficulties, contact your doctor to explore the cause and more specifically, rule out Parkinson’s Disease.

And for those fellow Neil Diamond fans that miss our favorite singer/songwriter here he is singing “Sweet Caroline”  (so good, so good, so good!)

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